Calf Pain Could Be a Symptom of Peripheral Artery Disease
If you’ve been experiencing calf pain, you might be wondering if the pain is related to peripheral artery disease (PAD). This chronic condition affects the vascular system in the legs, feet, and ankles. Certain types of calf pain can be caused by peripheral artery disease.
One of the most notable types of peripheral artery disease calf pain is cramping that occurs in the calves while exercising, especially if that exercise involves the legs. This PAD calf pain is called intermittent claudication. If you suspect your calf pain may be related to peripheral artery disease, you can schedule a screening with our highly qualified vascular specialists at USA Vascular Centers. Our board-certified physicians can provide advice on the diagnosis, management, and expertise you need to help reduce and find a solution to the cause of your calf pain.
Why Does PAD Create Calf Pain?
Peripheral artery disease is caused by plaque buildup, also known as atherosclerosis, in the arteries leading to the extremities, including your legs. The plaque buildup causes the passageways inside your arteries to narrow, restricting blood flow to your lower extremities.
When you exercise, the muscles in your legs contract, a process that requires oxygen. Blood flow from the heart usually delivers that oxygen. Still, if the arteries aren’t working as they should, there isn’t enough oxygenated blood to meet your muscles’ demands. This results in calf pain during exercise, a warning sign that your leg muscles need more blood to function correctly.
If you are experiencing PAD calf pain, you may also notice numbness or weakness in your legs due to decreased blood flow. There are things you can do to help treat this atherosclerosis calf pain. Diagnosing PAD is the first step.
It’s important to see an expert to diagnose PAD, as the signs can sometimes be dismissed as the everyday aches and pains of aging. At USA Vascular Centers, our physicians provide advanced diagnosis and treatment for PAD calf pain.
Make an appointment for a PAD screening if you are experiencing calf pain anytime you walk, climb stairs, jog, or use your legs to do mildly strenuous everyday activities. If you aren’t sure whether your leg pain could be related to PAD, it can help determine whether you have any particular risk factors for PAD. Smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes are all PAD risk factors. For example, if you have calf pain and high blood pressure, it’s essential to get screened for PAD.
Furthermore, even if you only have calf pain, it’s crucial to pay attention to it, as leg cramping during exercise (intermittent claudication) is a common, early symptom of PAD. Many PAD patients initially ignore their peripheral artery disease calf pain, assuming that cramping is a normal part of aging. Early intervention can help improve PAD symptoms, so pay attention to this pain and see your doctor or a vascular specialist as soon as you can.
At USA Vascular Centers, our vascular specialists are leading experts in diagnosing and treating PAD.
We can detect PAD with one or more of these diagnostic tests:
- Ankle-brachial index (ABI): In this test, your doctor compares the blood pressure in your arms and legs.
- Vascular ultrasound: This procedure involves your doctor placing a small, handheld instrument (transducer) on your skin. The transducer produces sound waves that bounce off your arteries, generating ultrasonic images of your vascular system.
- Angiogram: A minimally invasive procedure, angiography uses a catheter, contrast dye, and X-ray imaging to detect blockages in the vascular system.
How to Treat Calf Pain Caused by Peripheral Artery Disease
At USA Vascular Centers, your care team can customize a personalized plan to treat your peripheral artery disease calf pain. To treat the PAD calf pain, your doctor will focus on helping you treat the PAD itself. While peripheral artery disease cannot be cured or reversed, treatment can help alleviate symptoms and significantly slow the progress of the disease.
Your vascular specialist may recommend lifestyle changes, such as eating a balanced diet, quitting smoking, and beginning an exercise program. If you are experiencing PAD calf pain and are concerned about limiting your exercise, express your concerns to your doctor. You may be able to ease into a supervised walking program that slowly builds up your endurance and reduces intermittent claudication symptoms.
If needed, your doctor may prescribe medication to lower your cholesterol or high blood pressure, or help reduce the risk of blood clots. You may also need one of the following minimally invasive, non-surgical treatments:
Schedule a Consultation With USA Vascular Centers
At USA Vascular Centers, our board-certified vascular physicians can perform an angioplasty, stent placement, or atherectomy to help treat peripheral artery disease and calf pain. Our state-of-the-art outpatient centers are accredited by the Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care (AAAHC), which means we adhere to rigorous patient safety standards.
Through our accreditation, we also qualify for Medicare and Medicaid certification.