Published on July 08, 2019

Achy legs? It could be something serious called PAD

Do your legs cramp, particularly when you walk or exercise? Does that pain go away when you rest?

Unexplained leg pain like this is the most common symptom of peripheral artery disease (PAD). It’s a circulatory problem in which arteries clogged with plaque reduce blood flow to your extremities, usually your legs.

Other signs and symptoms of the disease include:

  • Slow-healing sores on your toes, feet or legs
  • Pale or bluish skin
  • A lower temperature in one leg than the other
  • Poor toenail growth
  • Weak pulse or no pulse in the legs or feet
  • Erectile dysfunction in men with diabetes

Who’s vulnerable?

Your risk rises with age. High cholesterol, high blood pressure and extra pounds all increase risk too. Smokers and people with diabetes are especially susceptible to PAD.

If you have signs or symptoms of PAD, tell your doctor. PAD raises your risk for heart attack and stroke, so it needs to be treated.

A healthy lifestyle, medicine or both may be enough to control your PAD symptoms. Eat a heart-friendly diet, be active, control your diabetes if you have it and stop smoking if you light up. Be sure to take any medicine your doctor prescribes exactly as directed too.

If the steps above aren’t sufficient, your doctor may advise a minimally invasive procedure—like angioplasty—or bypass surgery to improve flow in a blocked artery.