The signs of Peripheral Artery Disease vary from each person based on age, weight and lifestyle choices, and there is only about a 50% chance that you will experience noticeable symptoms. These symptoms are almost always caused by a reduction in blood flow to your leg muscles, and this can vary based on which artery is affected and to what extent your blood flow is restricted.
The most common symptom of PAD is pain in one or both calves, thighs, or hips. Intermittent pain usually occurs while walking or climbing stairs, and this is because the need for oxygen rich blood increases during these activities and other exercises. This pain is called Claudication.
Leg cramps can be fairly common, but cramps that start with exercise and subside when you rest is most likely due to claudication. When the blood vessels in your legs are completely blocked, you might even experience pain at night or in your sleep. It usually is a dull, cramping pain. It may also feel like a heaviness, tightness, or tiredness in the muscles of the legs.
Other signs and symptoms of PAD include:
- Numbness or tingling, and weakness in your legs
- Burning or aching pain in your feet or toes
- Dull pain in your buttocks
- One or both legs or feet feel cold or change color
- Impotence or the inability to maintain an erection
- Lingering sores on your leg or foot, or loss of hair
Because the signs of PAD can be easily overlooked or excused as tiredness or fatigue, or masked by conditions such as peripheral neuropathy, it is important that you’re mindful of common risk factors (i.e., over 50, if you were ever a smoker, if you are diabetic) and if you are experiencing one or more of the signs and symptoms.
Peripheral Artery Disease can be effectively treated when diagnosed early and properly. You can schedule a free PAD screening at a Modern Vascular clinic if you’re feeling at risk, or to put your mind at ease.