What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Peripheral Arterial Disease?
Many people who have peripheral arterial disease (PAD) don’t have any signs or symptoms. Others may have many signs and symptoms.
Intermittent Claudication.Some people who have PAD may experience symptoms when walking or climbing stairs. These symptoms may include pain, numbness, aching, or heaviness in the leg muscles. Symptoms also may include cramping in the affected leg(s) and in the buttocks, thighs, calves, and feet. Calf pain is the most common location.
The severity varies widely, from mild discomfort to debilitating pain. Severe intermittent claudication can make it hard for you to walk or do other types of physical activity. Symptoms may ease after resting but can also return quickly upon resumption of activity.
These symptoms are called intermittent claudication. During physical activity, your muscles need increased blood flow. If your blood vessels are narrowed or blocked, your muscles won’t get enough blood, which may lead to the symptoms listed above. When resting, the muscles need less blood flow, so the symptoms will go away.
About 10% of people who have PAD suffer from claudication and is more likely in people who also have atherosclerosis in other arteries.
Other signs and symptoms of PAD include:
- Weak or absent pulses in the legs or feet
- Sores or wounds on the toes, feet, or legs that heal slowly, poorly, or not at all
- A pale or bluish color to the skin on your feet or legs
- A lower temperature in one leg compared to the other leg
- Poor nail growth on the toes
- Decreased hair growth or shiny skin on the legs
- Erectile dysfunction, especially among men who have diabetes
PAD is a special problem for people with diabetes. Blocked blood flow to your legs can cause pain and numbness. Diabetic neuropathy can mask some of the symptoms of PAD or make them worse. PAD can raise your risk of getting an infection in the affected limbs. If severe enough, blocked blood flow can cause tissue death and in very serious cases, this can lead to leg amputation.