September is Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD) Awareness Month. PAD is a condition that affects about 18 million Americans, about 160 to 180,000 of that are predicted to have a limb amputated this year. 

What is PAD and what causes it?

PAD occurs when there is a narrowing of the peripheral arteries such as those serving the head, stomach, arms, and legs.

The most common cause of PAD is atherosclerosis. 

Atherosclerosis is a condition that develops over time. It’s a gradual process in which fatty deposits build up inside the arteries. 

Aside from atherosclerosis, other factors that can lead to PAD include diabetes, smoking, obesity, high blood pressure, and a family history of heart disease.

What are the symptoms of PAD?

Pain or cramping in the thigh or calf, especially during physical movement like walking,  numbness and/or weakness in the legs, and coldness and shiny skin on the legs and feet are the most common symptoms of PAD. 

What to do if you’re at risk for PAD?

If you are at risk for PAD or been diagnosed with it, it’s important to follow your doctor’s recommendations, especially in doing the necessary lifestyle changes. PAD can’t be cured, but it can sometimes be managed with medications and lifestyle changes that include stopping smoking, a healthy diet, and exercise. 

For more serious cases of PAD that cause claudication, a procedure may be needed to restore blood flow and treat the condition.

Leg pain and numbness are not always part of aging. If you’re over 50 and have a history of diabetes or smoking, or under 50 but have diabetes and other peripheral artery disease risk factors, don’t hesitate to see a specialist.

Premier Surgical Associates of Knoxville and Cleveland has a team of board-certified Vascular Surgeons who are well-experienced in assessing, diagnosing, and treating PAD. Request an appointment online at or call Premier Vascular Services today at (865) 588-8229.