Could My Leg Pain Be Peripheral Arterial Disease?

Nov 24, 2020

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Could My Leg Pain Be Peripheral Arterial Disease?

Peripheral artery disease (PAD) affects about 8.5 million Americans — yet many people don’t even know they have it. That’s because PAD’s primary symptom — leg pain — is often confused with other types of leg discomfort, like the pain from muscle strain or even arthritis. Having your leg pain diagnosed early is the best way to prevent complications and improve your overall vascular health.

At Desert West Vein & Surgery Center, our team uses advanced diagnostic techniques to determine the cause of leg pain, customizing each treatment plan to help patients in El Paso, Texas, enjoy optimal health and wellness. Here’s what you should know about PAD’s painful symptoms and why early diagnosis is so important.

Know your risk factors

Anyone can develop PAD, but some people are at a greater risk than others. If you have one or more risk factors, there’s a greater chance your pain could be caused by PAD. Some of the most common risk factors for PAD include:

  • Obesity
  • High cholesterol
  • High blood pressure
  • Smoking
  • Diabetes
  • Inactive lifestyle
  • Older age
  • Family history of PAD, heart disease, or stroke

During your exam, our team will review your medical history and ask you about your lifestyle to help identify risk factors associated with peripheral artery disease.

Know the symptoms

Lots of problems can cause leg pain, but with PAD, the painful symptoms tend to be a little different. Most people with PAD have pain during activities like walking or climbing stairs. Once they stop the activity and rest, the pain often subsides fairly quickly. With other types of pain, like the pain from arthritis or sciatica, for instance, pain or achiness can persist even while you’re taking a break from activity.

Why does pain happen most often when you’re active? Because that activity puts extra demands on your leg muscles. Since PAD means your arteries are partly blocked, they can’t provide your muscles with the oxygen they need during those activities. Lack of oxygen causes your muscles to struggle, and that’s what causes the pains and aches you feel with PAD. Once you rest, the oxygen demands decrease, relieving those painful symptoms.

The second clue: PAD’s painful symptoms are often accompanied by symptoms of fatigue or tiredness in your legs that makes it feel like every step is a struggle. That fatigued feeling occurs because your muscles aren’t getting the oxygen they need to function properly. That means they get “tired out” a lot faster than they normally would. 

Other PAD symptoms

Another way to tell if leg pain might be related to PAD is to look for other symptoms that can occur with peripheral artery disease. Aside from pain and fatigue, the most common PAD symptoms include:

  • Cold feet, or one foot colder than the other
  • Discoloration in the skin of your lower leg
  • Sores on your foot or calf
  • A pulse that’s weaker in one leg compared to the other
  • Slow hair growth or toenail growth
  • Lower leg skin that appears taut or shiny

PAD can affect one leg or both legs. Even if both legs are affected, you might not have the same symptoms in both. Plus, symptoms can vary in their severity, and leg pain and cramping can sometimes occur even when you’re resting, making PAD challenging to diagnose on your own.

Don’t ignore your leg pain

No type of leg pain is normal. Whether you’re at risk for PAD or not, it’s important to have leg pain evaluated early, so treatment — and relief — can begin as soon as possible. If you’re having leg pain or other leg symptoms, getting an exam is the best way to prevent more serious problems from occurring. To schedule your evaluation, call Desert West Vein & Surgery Center at 915-260-4602, or use our online form to book your visit online.

1600 Medical Center Drive
Suite 120
El Paso,TX


Monday 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM

Tuesday 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM

Wednesday 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Thursday 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Friday 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Saturday Closed
Sunday Closed
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1860 Dean Martin
Suite 103
El Paso,TX


Monday By appointment only

Tuesday By appointment only

Wednesday By appointment only
Thursday 1:00 PM - 5:00 PM
Friday By appointment only
Saturday Closed
Sunday Closed
Request Appointment