Is Hip Pain a Sign of Peripheral Artery Disease and Claudication?
If you’ve been experiencing pain in the hips while walking, you may be wondering if your discomfort is actually peripheral artery disease. Peripheral artery disease (PAD) is a condition that affects the arteries in the feet, ankles, and legs. It’s caused by atherosclerosis, or the buildup of plaque in the vascular system, which then inhibits blood flow.
One of the most notable signs of PAD is calf and leg pain while walking, a symptom known as intermittent claudication. Although it can be related to intermittent claudication and peripheral artery disease, hip pain also signify several different issues.
If you think your hip pain might be related to PAD, the knowledgeable team at USA Vascular Centers can help. Our vascular doctors are experts at diagnosing and treating PAD. When you schedule a visit, we will provide a personalized care plan to help you live the fullest life possible after a PAD diagnosis.
Causes of Hip Pain
Everyone has two hip joints, one on each side of the pelvis. The pelvic bone, hip joints, and the muscles, ligaments, and tendons that support them, are considered the hip area. Several arteries supply blood to the hip, buttock, and upper leg region. Because of the complex anatomy of the hip, there are a multitude of hip pain causes, including arthritis, injuries and strains, infection, and bursitis.1
Hip pain that only lasts a few days may be caused by a minor injury sustained while exercising. However, hip pain that resists painkillers and constantly hurts may signify a more severe injury or complication. If this is the case, it’s a good idea to consult your doctor to find out what might be causing the pain in your hip.
In other cases, hip pain may only appear during exercise and disappear at rest. This is a classic feature of intermittent claudication: pain that flares up during exercise and recedes afterward. The discomfort results from the narrowed arteries in your hips being unable to keep up with your leg and hip muscles’ increased need for oxygen-rich blood during exercise.2 Hip claudication, as this is called, is a type of peripheral artery disease hip pain.
If you suspect that your hip pain when walking is related to PAD, there are several tests our doctors at USA Vascular Centers can perform to help diagnose the condition, including an ankle-brachial index (ABI) test, an angiogram, or a vascular ultrasound.
In addition, it’s a good idea to review whether you have any of the risk factors for PAD: diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking, obesity, or advanced age. You may also be experiencing additional PAD symptoms, such as numbness or tingling in the hips, legs, or feet; hair loss on your legs; and poor toenail growth.
If you have hip claudication and one or more of these risk factors or PAD symptoms, schedule a PAD screening as soon as possible. Even if you do not, to your knowledge, have any risk factors, it’s wise to pay attention to hip pain when walking.
Many PAD cases don’t become evident until the atherosclerosis is moderate to severe—partly because it’s easy to dismiss the symptoms as the normal aches and pains of aging. However, if PAD is diagnosed early, you and your doctor can take charge of your condition. PAD treatment can help relieve peripheral artery disease hip claudication and allow you to live your full, regular life.
When Should I See a Doctor for My Hip Pain?
Reach out to a doctor if you are concerned about your hip pain, especially if the pain has lasted for a week or longer. Hip pain that persists after taking over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications, such as ibuprofen or naproxen, is also a cause for concern.
In some cases, hip pain requires immediate medical attention. If you fall or sustain an injury that causes your hip to hurt, seek emergency medical care or visit your nearest urgent care. This is also the case if you experience hip pain accompanied by sudden swelling, loss of movement, inability to bear weight on the affected leg, fever or other signs of infection, or severe pain.
If you have a cramp in your hip when walking that disappears after you sit down to rest, you may be experiencing peripheral artery disease-related hip pain. PAD-related hip pain when walking can also be accompanied by other PAD symptoms, such as a loss of leg hair, toenails that appear to stop growing, or wounds that take too long to heal or don’t heal at all.
Any cramping in your hip when walking is a concern, but if you experience these additional symptoms of PAD along with hip claudication, see a vascular doctor as soon as possible. PAD can progress quickly once it reaches the moderate claudication stage. You may need prompt treatment to help clear out narrowed arteries and avoid the more serious PAD complications, including gangrene, amputation, and even death. In addition, PAD drives up your risk of heart attack and stroke. Starting PAD treatment right away can help improve your overall arterial health and prevent devastating complications. If you’re experiencing these symptoms, schedule a PAD screening with one of our experienced vascular doctors at USA Vascular Centers.
How to Treat Hip Pain and Peripheral Artery Disease
For mild PAD, your healthcare professional may recommend lifestyle changes, such as beginning a walking program, quitting smoking, and consulting with a nutritionist to develop a healthy eating plan. Moderate to advanced PAD may need additional treatment. At USA Vascular Centers, our doctors can perform minimally invasive procedures to widen blocked arteries, including angioplasty, stent placement, or atherectomy.
These procedures are done in an outpatient setting at one of our state-of-the-art centers. Each treatment is performed in our on-site cath labs, so no hospital stay is needed. After a short post-treatment observation period, you can recover in the comfort of your own home. After treatment, you may notice a decrease in hip claudication, allowing you to develop your walking plan and stay on the road to better health.
Schedule a Consultation with USA Vascular Centers
At USA Vascular Centers, our compassionate vascular specialists can perform an angioplasty, stent placement, or atherectomy to help treat peripheral artery disease and hip pain. Our outpatient centers are accredited by the Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care (AAAHC), certifying that we adhere to the most rigorous standards for patient safety. Our accreditation also qualifies us for Medicare and Medicaid certification.