Peripheral artery disease is a common circulatory condition which occurs when the narrowing of your arteries reduces the flow of blood to your limbs. Your limbs won’t be able to keep up with demand, which causes leg pain.
Although some people do not show symptoms of peripheral artery disease, others experience pain while walking or standing. This may manifest as a pain in your legs or arms during activity. Where the pain occurs will depend upon the location of the narrow artery. Most often, patients report pain in their calves. In some cases, the pain can be debilitating.
List of possible symptoms of PAD:
- Cramping/pain in your hips, thighs, or calves
- Pain during walking, running, climbing stairs
- Coldness in your lower leg or foot due to reduced blood flow
- Slow healing sores on feet, toes, or lower legs
- Hair loss and slower hair growth on feet and legs
- Shiny skin on legs
- No pulse/weak pulse in legs or feet
- (For men) erectile dysfunction
These are some of the tests your physician may recommend in order to diagnose PAD:
- Physical exam
- Ankle-brachial index
- Blood test
Although there is no cure for PAD, there are steps you and your physician can take to treat the disease. Medication may be prescribed. In some cases, interventional procedures like angioplasty with stent placement or atherectomy may be explored.
Altering your lifestyle will be the best first step to treating PAD. This includes some of the following adjustments:
- Quitting smoking
- Eating a balanced diet
- Exercising regularly
- Managing any other health conditions
- Practicing good foot hygeine
As stated above, there is no surefire cure for PAD. Your behaviors are very important–continue to take medications as recommended by your doctor, practice healthy behaviors, and avoid potentially complicating activities like excessive alcohol consumption, bad diet, and smoking.