What Are the Symptoms of Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD)?
Are you experiencing leg pain, numbness, or weakness? Do you often struggle to move around or walk up the stairs? These are common signs and symptoms of peripheral artery disease (PAD). PAD is a vascular disease most commonly affecting the lower extremities, and impacts more than eight million people over the age of 40 across the United States.
Peripheral artery disease is primarily caused by atherosclerosis, which is when excess fat, cholesterol, and other substances in the blood build up as plaque on artery walls, blocking blood flow. PAD most commonly develops in the legs because the arteries are working against gravity to transport blood and oxygen back to your heart. This is why most PAD symptoms occur in the legs, and some also affect the feet.
PAD is a progressive disease, meaning if too much plaque builds up over time, it can harden and completely block the artery, cutting off circulation entirely. This can lead to heart attack, stroke, or even limb amputation. Understanding the symptoms of PAD can help you seek treatment early to prevent these more dangerous conditions.
Common PAD signs and symptoms include:
- Leg pain
- Leg numbness or weakness
- Leg discoloration
- Loss of hair on legs
- Erectile dysfunction
- Leg fatigue or heaviness
- Claudication or Leg cramping
- Leg Tingling
- Hip Pain
- Calf Pain
- Difficulty walking or climbing stairs
- Pain that stops when at rest
- Foot and leg pain that disturbs sleep
- Shiny skin on the legs
- Non-healing wounds or ulcers on feet or legs
- One leg that is cooler than the other
- Cold or numb toes
- Poor toenail growth
We want you to understand that not everyone experiences PAD symptoms, and that many patients disregard their leg pain as a normal sign of aging. In other words, you can have peripheral artery disease or another vascular condition, but not realize it. A vascular doctor can provide an accurate diagnosis of your symptoms, and help you explore your range of non-surgical treatment options.
What Does Peripheral Artery Disease Feel Like?
If you are in the early stages of PAD, you may not experience symptoms until the disease progresses. However, as it worsens, PAD can cause cramping in your legs after walking for a longer period of time or as you climb stairs. The pain may become unpleasant enough that you must stop to rest, allowing it to subside before continuing with your activity.
As PAD progresses to the next stages, the pain may begin to affect you even when you’re relaxing or trying to sleep at night. It typically starts out as a dull ache or cramping, but it may also cause a tingling or burning sensation in your legs. They may feel restless while sitting or lying down or have a heaviness that makes you not want to move. Your legs may become cold to the touch due to lack of blood flow or one leg may feel colder than the other. When PAD reaches the more severe stage, the pain can become extreme, impacting your mobility and independence.
What Does Peripheral Artery Disease Look Like?
Although in the early stages of PAD you may not see any visible signs, as the disease progresses, you may begin to notice symptoms like leg discoloration. The skin on your legs may appear pale or blue. You may also notice more dry, scaly skin, or that the skin on your calves and shins is shiny. Hair loss on the lower legs and toenails that grow more slowly are other visible signs that might indicate PAD.
In later stages of PAD, you may notice ulcers, sores or wounds, on the feet or toes that don’t heal quickly or at all.
What To Do if You’re Experiencing the Symptoms of PAD
When you experience PAD signs and symptoms, it is essential to contact your doctor or a vascular specialist as soon as possible. When left untreated, Peripheral Artery Disease can eventually limit mobility, necessitate leg amputation, or cause a life-threatening stroke or heart attack.
You should also be aware that PAD symptoms tend to worsen over time. What may begin as mild leg discomfort can transform into severe pain that limits your ability to walk or enjoy life to its fullest.
While advancing age and genetics often play a part in developing PAD, several lifestyle factors can also influence your risks. This means certain lifestyle modifications can potentially improve your PAD symptoms and overall prognosis. Some of these include:
- Getting more physical activity
- Eating a healthier diet
- Losing excess weight
- Quitting smoking
- Controlling related health issues like diabetes and high cholesterol levels
However, the best way to find relief from your painful symptoms and improve mobility is to seek treatment for your PAD.
Schedule Your Appointment at USA Vascular Today
At USA Vascular Centers, we understand that a diagnosis of peripheral artery disease can be overwhelming at times. If you are avoiding the doctor because you are concerned about invasive surgery, we have good news. We want you to know that effective treatment exists that can alleviate your symptoms, improve your mobility, and quickly get you back to normal life.
Our nationwide network of vascular treatment centers offers a range of state-of-the-art, non-surgical options that can help you take back control of your vascular health. Our specialists are available to meet with you one-on-one, evaluate your individual situation, and make personalized treatment recommendations.
Worried About PAD? Contact USA Vascular Centers Today
If you have peripheral artery disease symptoms, please don't wait around to get help. Unfortunately, your PAD signs and symptoms are unlikely to disappear on their own. Instead of worrying about how peripheral artery disease may affect your life, go ahead and schedule an appointment today with our experts at USA Vascular Centers.
If you are concerned about pandemic-related safety, we want to assure you that we are following strict precautionary measures at all of our treatment centers to help reduce the spread of COVID-19. For your convenience, we also offer telemedicine appointments. Whether you ultimately decide to schedule a virtual or in-person visit, we look forward to meeting you soon.