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The most common form of PAD is caused by atherosclerosis. The arteries most commonly affected are those that carry blood to your legs. Lack of blood to these areas causes the symptoms associated with PAD.

Plaque Blocking an Artery

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Calf or thigh pain with exercise is termed claudication. Claudication is a sign of PAD. The discomfort may consist of cramping, limping, or a feeling of heaviness, weakness, or fatigue in the legs. Symptoms of claudication usually begin after walking a certain distance—such as a block or two—and end after resting for the same length each time.

Many people will have no symptoms at all. In those that have them, PAD may cause:

  • Numbness of the legs or feet at rest
  • Cold legs or feet
  • Muscle pain in the thighs, calves, or feet
  • Loss of hair on the lower extremities
  • Paleness or blueness of the legs or feet
  • Weak or absent pulse in the extremity
  • Walking troubles
  • Foot wounds that heal slowly
References:

Peripheral arterial disease (PAD) of lower extremities. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed.ebscohost.com/about/about-us. Updated August 3, 2013. Accessed August 8, 2013.

Symptoms and diagnosis of PAD. American Heart Association website. Available at: http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/More/PeripheralArteryDisease/Symptoms-and-Diagnosis-of-PAD_UCM_301306_Article.jsp. Updated August 16, 2012. Accessed August 8, 2013.

What are the signs and symptoms of peripheral arterial disease? National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute website. Available at: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/pad/signs.html. Updated April 1, 2011. Accessed August 8, 2013.

Last reviewed August 2013 by Michael J. Fucci, DO; Brian Randall, MD

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.


 
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