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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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