For most of us, diseases are diagnosed because we experience common symptoms. Chest pain? It’s likely Coronary Disease. Kidney dysfunction? Let’s test for Renal Disease. Some diseases, like Peripheral Artery Disease, are much harder to diagnose because their symptoms are mild or nonexistent.
Almost half of those with Peripheral Artery Disease have no symptoms at all, especially in the early stages. Of those who do, symptoms can be so mild that they are attributed to natural aging or are easily ignored. Because of this, many patients have Peripheral Artery Disease for years before being diagnosed. Since P.A.D. causes fatty blockage in the arteries that can restrict blood flow, it’s important to catch it early to prevent serious or even life-threatening consequences.
There are a few common signs to watch for that may indicate a vascular disease like P.A.D. If you suffer from any of the below conditions or are at high-risk for the disease, it’s important to speak with your doctor.
The most common sign of P.A.D. is also one of the most confusing. Intermittent Claudication refers to pain or cramping in the arms or legs that comes with exercise or activity and disappears with rest. Because most of us have experienced occasional discomfort when exercising, it’s one of the most quickly written-off symptoms. The key is that intermittent claudication pain can reach intolerable levels during movement but is relieved very quickly when you stop.
Weakness or numbness in the legs
If your legs are unusually weak, numb, or prone to “falling asleep”, you may have a blood flow issue that could be due to P.A.D.
Changes in color or temperature in the legs
If one leg is much cooler than the other, or if you notice a change in skin color such as blueness or paleness, it may be due to P.A.D.
Sores on your toes, feet, or legs that won’t heal
Your body needs blood and oxygen to heal wounds. When your blood flow is restricted, even small wounds like a heel blister will be hard to overcome. This opens the door to infection and even gangrene, which can result in leg or foot amputation.
Loss of leg hair
As blood flow is restricted to the skin, it loses its ability to grow or hold body hair. Sparse or missing leg hair can indicate P.A.D.
Poor toenail growth
If you haven’t had to reach for the clippers in a while, it could be due to a vascular problem like P.A.D.
In men, P.A.D. can manifest as erectile dysfunction due to decreased blood flow to the genital area.
Pain or cramping in the legs when at rest
If P.A.D is severe, you may experience pain or cramping in your legs or feet even when you’re resting. This occurs when your artery blockage is so severe that blood and oxygen are restricted, and it requires prompt treatment. It’s most commonly experienced as intense pain in the feet while resting at night.
If you think you may have Peripheral Artery Disease, we can help! Our expert vascular specialists can help you devise a treatment plan to take control of the disease and improve your vascular health. Contact us today to schedule your appointment!