Usually leg pain is associated with strains and sprains. Many times the problem is taken lightly and assumed to be fixed by applying pain relieving over-the-counter creams. Most people do not know that the source of pain could actually be caused by plaque or the collection of lipids on blood vessels’ walls. However, you will not feel pain until the gradual piling of plaque causes a severe blood vessel blockage. When this happens, Kirk Minkus, MD, an expert in peripheral arterial disease and venous diseases, suggests that you see a specialist because you could be having symptoms of a severe illness.
What should you know about peripheral arterial disease?
What is Peripheral Arterial Disease?
Usually characterized by a pain that worsens when you walk and relaxes when you rest, peripheral arterial disease is a condition that commences when substances build up on the arterial wall. With time, the substances’ accumulation enlarges and hardens, narrowing the affected artery, resulting in blood flow blockage. PAD develops in several major arteries that are responsible for transferring blood from your heart to the rest of your body, though the legs or feet are the most affected. You will not realize you have PAD until your artery is significantly narrowed by the plaque or accumulation of substances. When the passage is almost completely blocked, you will start experiencing:
- Leg pains whey get active
- Your legs are tired or feel heavy
- Muscle cramps
- Muscle loss or weakness in the affected leg
- Numbness or a tingling sensation on your legs, toes, or feet
- Hair loss on the affected leg
- Discolored skin on your leg or foot
- Never healing sores, wounds, or ulcers on your leg
- Cold-feeling skin in the foot
Dr. Minkus advises you to see a doctor when you have three of four of the symptoms for an arterial duplex ultrasound screening to detect early stages of PAD.
Who is at risk of developing PAD?
You are at risk of developing Peripheral Arterial Disease if you are or have:
- High blood pressure
- Being 50 or older
- High cholesterol
- Chronic kidney disease
- Previous heart attack or stroke
- Coronary stents
- Family history of atherosclerosis
What are leg pains and what causes them?
Sprains and strains are usually associated with leg pains. However, leg pain could be a sign of severe vein and artery issues. The leg pains could be early signs of PAD and other complications like:
· Chronic venous insufficiency. This condition occurs when the valves in your legs weaken and relax, causing blood to pool in the leg and making it swell. This pain usually worsens in the afternoon or evening. Chronic venous insufficiency causes high blood pressure, leg pain, and varicose veins on your lower leg.
· Varicose veins. Varicose veins are twisted, dark, bluish-purple bulging veins that appear on your skin’s service because a dysfunctional valve causes strain on your veins.
· Deep vein thrombosis. DVT occurs when a blood clot develops in a vein at the center of the leg. You will know you are developing DVT when you start feeling soreness in your calf, accompanied by cramping.
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