Signs and Symptoms of Peripheral Artery Disease
Peripheral artery disease is a relatively common circulatory issue in which narrowed arteries significantly reduce blood flow to the extremities. When you develop peripheral artery disease, your limbs – typically the legs – do not receive enough blood. This causes numerous symptoms, including leg pain while walking (claudication). PAD is only the beginning, though. It is likely a sign of widespread accumulation of fatty deposits in the arteries. This condition further reduces blood flow to the heart and brain, along with the legs.
While most people suffering from peripheral artery disease experience mild or no symptoms whatsoever, some experience leg pain while walking. Claudication symptoms generally include muscle pain or frequent cramping in the legs or arms, usually triggered by activity. The feeling will often disappear after a couple of minutes of rest.
The severity of claudication varies greatly, from mild discomfort to debilitating pain. Severe claudication often makes it hard to walk or perform any physical activity.
Other peripheral artery disease symptoms include:
- Painful cramping in the hip, thigh, or calf muscles
- Leg numbness or weakness
- Sores on the toes, feet, or legs that do not heal
- Slow toenail growth
- Hair loss on the feet and legs
- Shiny skin on the legs
- Erectile dysfunction in men
When to Visit a Doctor
If at any time you experience leg pain, numbness, or any other mentioned symptom, do not dismiss them as normal. Call your physician immediately and schedule an appointment.
Even if you do not experience any symptoms of peripheral artery disease, you may wish to schedule a screening if you are:
- Over the age of 70
- Over 50 with a history of diabetes and smoking
- Under 50, but with diabetes and other risk factors, including obesity or high blood pressure