Painful Walking May Signal Peripheral Arterial Disease

painful walking, peripheral arterial diseaseA daily walking habit for 30 minutes is one of the easiest steps you can take to improve your health.

Not only does it reduce your risk of heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes, walking also decreases your risk for certain cancers and osteoporosis. You can improve your blood pressure, blood sugar and blood cholesterols as well.

It’s no wonder the American Heart Association celebrates National Walking Day every year on the first Wednesday that falls in April.

Walking doesn’t require a gym membership, special equipment or training. It’s one of the simplest forms of exercise. Yet many people are hesitant to start a walking routine because they find it’s difficult to go much further than a few blocks.

It’s important to see a doctor if you find walking is painful, especially if your symptoms –  leg pain, aching or cramping in the buttock, hip, thigh or calf pain – go away when you sit down to rest.

These symptoms could signal that you have peripheral arterial disease – a narrowing of the arteries that carry blood to the head, organs, arms and legs. People who have PAD also have a greater risk of heart and stroke.

“You should always have a doctor check out why you’re having pain while walking,” said Dr. Jason Andre, MD, a vascular surgeon with Bon Secours Vein and Vascular Specialists. “It might be arthritis or a problem with a disc in your back. If it’s peripheral arterial disease, getting treatment could save a limb.”

Left untreated, PAD affects your circulation. If you develop a wound on your foot, it can become infected and lead to gangrene. People who have diabetes are particularly susceptible.

Leg pain is a typical symptom of PAD but some people are asymptomatic. Other symptoms include:

  • A weak or absent pulse 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.
  • A lower temperature in one leg compared to the other.
  • Poor nail growth on the toes; decreased hair growth on the legs.
  • Erectile dysfunction, especially among men who have diabetes.

Although it might be painful to walk, walking has many benefits for people with PAD. Under a doctor’s supervision, walking can build up your stamina, improve your mobility and help your body grow new veins.

“Walking is good for everyone,” Dr. Andre said.

+ Bon Secours Vein and Vascular Specialists provides comprehensive services for the evaluation, diagnosis, and management of a full range of vascular diseases. Our convenient center offers advanced, outpatient treatment services for all types of varicose veins, spider veins and facial veins in addition to the latest diagnosis, surgical, and non-surgical treatment options for all forms of arterial, venous and lymphatic disease.  Call (757) 397-2383 to schedule an appointment.