Peripheral Arterial Disease

Do you experience leg pain when walking?  This may be due to peripheral arterial disease (PAD)

These symptoms include muscle pain or cramping in the legs, which is triggered by activity such as walking, and disappears after a few minutes of rest. This is due to arterial disease narrowing or blocking the arteries supplying your legs. The calf is the most common location for this pain, but it also may occur in the thigh and move to the buttocks.

Symptoms of peripheral arterial disease include painful cramping can occur in the muscles after activity (such as walking or climbing stairs) ; leg numbness or weakness and coldness in the lower leg or foot (especially when compared with the other side); sores on the toes, feet or legs that won’t heal; leg hair loss or slow hair and toenail growth and shiny skin on the legs; a change in colour of the legs; no pulse or a weak pulse in the legs and feet; and erectile dysfunction in men.

If peripheral artery disease progresses, pain may even occur when at rest or when lying down (ischemic rest pain). It may be intense enough to disrupt sleep. Hanging the legs over the edge of the bed or walking around may temporarily relieve the pain, however this is a sign of seriously progressing arterial disease and needs prompt assessment by a vascular surgeon.

The Treatment

First, a full examination will be performed.  This is usually followed by an arterial ultrasound or a CT scan to give a complete picture of what the problem is.

The surgeons may recommend monitoring of the arteries over a period of time (using ultrasound or CT) or they may advise proceeding directly to angiography, angioplasty, stenting (for narrowings) - or bypass surgery (for blockages).