Experiencing soreness or stiffness in your legs from time to time may not need a visit to your doctor, but if you’re regularly experiencing leg pain or soreness after an activity, then it’s a different story. It could be a case of peripheral artery disease (PAD).

What is PAD?

PAD occurs when there is a narrowing of the peripheral arteries that serve the legs, stomach, arms, and head. 

Like coronary artery disease, PAD is also caused by atherosclerosis (the narrowing and blocking of arteries in critical areas of the body). 

Who are at risk?

Anyone can develop PAD but you may have a higher chance of developing it if you are/have:

  • Smoker
  • Diabetic
  • High blood cholesterol
  • High blood pressure
  • Obese
  • Over the age of 50

What are the symptoms of PAD?

Although many people with PAD don’t have symptoms, the most common complaint of those who have symptoms is leg pain.

The pain is usually felt in the calves or lower legs after activity and usually goes away with rest. Sometimes, however, your legs may ache or feel “heavy” in the morning.

In severe cases of PAD, the following symptoms may also be observed:

  • Leg or foot pain at rest
  • Skin discoloration
  • Skin coolness
  • Foot ulcers that do not heal
  • Gangrene 

Why you should see a doctor?

The board-certified Vascular Surgeons of Premier Surgical Vascular & Vein Center warn that when left untreated, your PAD can increase your risk of stroke, heart attack, and infections.

Seeing a vascular specialist can help you manage and treat your PAD at the earliest time possible. The longer you wait to seek treatment, the more complicated it could get. 

How is PAD treated?

The treatment plan for PAD has two major goals – one is to manage symptoms and two, to prevent the spread of atherosclerosis in the body. 

Early on, your physician may recommend some lifestyle changes. This may involve stopping smoking and changing your eating habits. If you are obese and sedentary, you may also be recommended to start exercising.

If you have signs and symptoms of PAD, your additional medical treatment may be needed. You may be prescribed drugs that prevent blood clots, lower blood cholesterol, lower blood pressure, and control pain and other symptoms. 

There are cases though when a vascular procedure may be needed to open and restore the blood flow in your legs.

Some of the most common procedures for PAD include angioplasty, bypass surgery, and thrombolytic therapy.

Premier Surgical Vascular and Vein Center of Knoxville has board-certified surgeons who are well-experienced in diagnosing and treating PAD.

For more information and to request an appointment, call Premier Vascular and Vein Center at (865) 588-8229.