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Common PAD Symptoms and When to See a Doctor

February 09, 2017


People with peripheral artery disease (PAD) often have minimal to no symptoms. However, the most common symptom people complain of is claudication – distinct leg pain when walking,

Claudication symptoms include muscle pain or cramping in your legs or arms that's brought on by activities such as running or walking. This pain usually disappears after a few minutes of rest, but that does not mean that the problem is resolved. The location of this discomfort varies. It mainly depends on the location of the blocked or constricted artery. The most common location is in the calf.

The severity of claudication varies widely, ranging from mild discomfort to incapacitating pain. Severe claudication can severely impact your life, inhibiting you from daily activities and movement.


Other common symptoms

  • Leg numbness/weakness
  • Coldness in lower leg or foot
  • Change in color of legs
  • Sores on toes, feet or legs that don’t heal
  • Slower growth of toenails
  • Hair loss/slower growth on feet and legs
  • Shiny skin on legs
  • No/weak pulse in legs or feet
  • Erectile dysfunction in men

If PAD develops, pain can occur even when you're at rest or lying down. This type of pain is called ischemic rest pain. It can be strong enough to disrupt sleep. Stretching your legs or walking around may help to relieve the pain.


When to see a doctor

If you have inexplicable leg pain, numbness or any other listed symptoms, do not dismiss them as normal or typical signs of aging. Please contact your doctor who can then refer you to our trained team of specialists to determine your next steps.  

Even if you don't have symptoms of peripheral artery disease, we highly suggest that you get checked out if you are:

  • Over the age of 70
  • Over age 50 with a history of diabetes or smoking
  • Under age 50 and have diabetes and other peripheral artery disease risk factors, such as obesity or high blood pressure

We urge you to take PAD seriously and to learn to recognize the symptoms so that you can get treated as soon as possible. Don't wait to see your doctor. Protect your limbs and your life.

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