You may not need a procedure for your PAD;
You may just need to walk more
Do you have pain and cramping in your legs when you walk or exercise that does not go away in 10 minutes? Have you noticed that you choose to walk less and park closer to stores because walking causes you discomfort or that you wake up at night because your legs hurt? Have you decided to get a cane, use a walker or even a scooter to assist you with mobility because your legs feel weak?
Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD) may be the cause.
What is PAD you ask? PAD is caused by cholesterol and other fatty substances that block the blood vessels going to your lower legs and into the feet. Due to the decreased blood flow to the muscles and other tissues, it is common to experience pain and cramping. It is frequently seen in people over the age of 50, who have smoked or still do, who have diabetes, diabetic neuropathy (nerve damage which causes numbness, tingling and pain) or high blood pressure. If you have pain and cramping with exercise or simple walking, a structured walking program can help. Weight bearing exercise works by improving your circulation through the growth of new blood vessels. Those vessels can help ease the pain but it does not happen overnight, just like your PAD did not happen overnight. A walking program is beneficial to all PAD affected patients but especially to those pre-symptomatic patients and those already treated for PAD through revascularization procedures, like those done at Modern Vascular.
Before starting any exercise program make sure to speak with your doctor. They can assist you with a structured walking program either through a physical therapy program or simply walking on a treadmill, around the mall or grocery store (don’t forget your mask!), or in your neighborhood.
An example of a structured walking program:
- Always warm up with light stretching of your calf and thigh muscles.
- Start walking at a pace that is fast enough that you may have slight discomfort (approximately 5 minutes if you can).
- At the end of 5 minutes, stop and rest until that discomfort or pain subsides.
- Repeat this routine several times slowly building up your walking time to 30 minutes (minus rest breaks) 3 to 5 times a week. Once you hit your goal, keep adding a minute until you reach a total of 50 minutes 3 to 5 times a week.
- Always remember to cool down by slowly walking for 5 minutes followed by light stretching of your calf and thigh muscles.
If you or a family member have PAD leg pain, cramping when you walk, or foot wounds that will not heal, please contact Modern Vascular at 1-888-853-1278 and a Nurse or Patient Advocate will review your symptoms with you on the phone and help you to determine whether you should schedule a consultation at a Modern Vascular clinic.
Blog courtesy of Kathryne Sorgenfrei, Modern Vascular Regional Director of Clinical Operations