Peripheral arterial disease (PAD) is a common condition where a build-up of fatty deposits in the arteries restricts blood supply to leg muscles. It’s also known as peripheral vascular disease (PVD).
Symptoms of peripheral arterial disease
Many people with PAD have no symptoms. However, some develop a painful ache in their legs when they walk, which usually disappears after a few minutes’ rest. The medical term for this is “intermittent claudication”.
The pain can range from mild to severe, and usually goes away after a few minutes when you rest your legs. Both legs are often affected at the same time, although the pain may be worse in 1 leg.
Other symptoms of PAD can include:
- hair loss on your legs and feet
- numbness or weakness in the legs
- brittle, slow-growing toenails
- ulcers (open sores) on your feet and legs, which do not heal
- changing skin colour on your legs, such as turning pale or blue
- shiny skin
- in men, erectile dysfunction
- the muscles in your legs shrinking (wasting)
The symptoms of PAD often develop slowly, over time. If your symptoms develop quickly, or get suddenly worse, it could be a sign of a serious problem requiring immediate treatment.
When to see a GP
You should see a GP if you experience recurring leg pain when exercising. Many people mistakenly think this is just part of growing older, but there’s no reason why an otherwise healthy person should experience leg pain.
At the Northern Vascular Centre, we offer the full range of surgical, medical and endovascular (keyhole) treatments for PAD.