Why would you ignore pain in your legs?
You wouldn’t ignore chest pain. But would you ignore pain in your legs? Sometimes we don’t have time to deal with foot or leg pain or we just don’t consider leg pain to be a serious medical issue. But leg pain can be an indicator of serious vascular problems or Peripheral Arterial Disease also known as P.A.D.
What is Peripheral Arterial Disease (P.A.D.)?
Peripheral arterial disease (P.A.D.) is a narrowing or blockage of the blood vessels in the legs which leads to decreased blood flow or circulation problems. These circulation problems can reduce mobility and are associated with an increased risk of heart attack, stroke or even amputation.
How does blood circulate in the body? Blood flows through the body in arteries and veins which carry oxygen throughout the body. Arteries are responsible for carrying blood away from the heart to the body while veins carry blood back to the heart. Both work together to circulate blood throughout the body which is the essence of life.
P.A.D. Risk Factors
If you have any of these risk factors, please visit a vascular specialist:
- High blood pressure.
- Elevated blood cholesterol levels.
- Heart disease.
- Smoking (current or past)
- Family history of heart or vascular disease
- Over the age of 50
Common Signs and Symptoms of P.A.D. are:
Did you know that one in every 20 Americans over the age of 50 has P.A.D. that manifests itself through leg pain? Here are other common signs to be on the lookout for:
- Leg pain while walking or exercising or at rest.
- Slow or non-healing sores on toes or feet
- Swelling, tightness or weakness in legs
- Cold or discolored hands/feet
- Loss of feeling or burning in hands or feet
- Arm or hand pain, numbness or tingling
Some people have almost no symptoms or attribute pain to normal aging or diabetic neuropathy. That’s why P.A.D. often goes undiagnosed, which can be dangerous. Untreated P.A.D. can lead to severe leg pain, serious tissue damage or even amputation, in its most severe form. People with P.A.D. are also at an increased risk of coronary artery disease, heart attack, and stroke.
Once diagnosed, doctors will recommend heart-healthy lifestyle changes, such as improving your diet, increasing your physical activity and quitting smoking. If P.A.D. persists, you may be prescribed medication. For some patients with peripheral artery disease, your doctor may recommend a minimally invasive endovascular procedure or open surgery for more severe cases.
To learn more about P.A.D. and the various treatment options available at PVA visit www.PVAsatx.com.
Peripheral Vascular Associates is proud to serve the San Antonio community and surrounding areas in vascular disease education, prevention, and treatment for over 43 years. Our vascular physicians are dedicated to helping our patients better understand how we can help them with vascular disease. If you would like more information about vascular health, please contact us or schedule an appointment at (210) 237-4444.