How to Treat Leg Pain For a Vascular Disease?
Leg Pain Treatment and Causes
Many people ignore leg pain and assume they pulled a muscle, sprained something, or are experiencing arthritis symptoms. Many people feel that increased pain which may limit their activity is part of the natural aging process. We don’t realize that leg pain when walking or climbing stairs may be a sign of peripheral arterial disease (PAD).
Peripheral arterial disease is when arteries or vessels are clogged and blood flow is restricted in your legs. While this might not seem like a big issue, it can result in heart attack, stroke, amputation, gangrene, and death.
Let’s cover the importance of paying attention to leg pain, and we’ll go over some of the popular leg pain treatments.
When Is Vascular Treatment Required for Patients with Leg Pain?
The most significant sign of PAD is leg pain. This pain is in your muscles and not your joints; it’s important to know the difference. Joint pain will often improve with activity while the muscle pain related to PAD will worsen with activity.
In addition to pain in your muscles, you may experience one or more of the following symptoms:
- Cramping in legs and hips
- Numb and cold feet or legs
- Sores or wounds that heal slowly on feet and legs
- Pale feet, especially when elevating them
- Pain in the feet which is worse with elevation of the legs
- Poor nail and hair growth
- Weakness in legs
When you experience pain in your legs, it can be either acute or chronic pain. Acute pain happens suddenly and is usually the result of something you did. A sprain or pulled muscle would be acute pain.
It goes away by itself, doesn’t require advanced treatments, and usually doesn’t last longer than six months.
Chronic pain lasts longer than six months; the pain is more severe and is usually the sign of damage to your body.
If you think you’re experiencing chronic pain in your legs, vascular leg pain treatment might be the right option for you.
Common Causes of Leg Pain
Leg pain can be caused by a nerve, a muscle, a bone, or even your spine issues. People rarely relate to a poor blood circulation.
Let’s look a little deeper into your leg pain to try and learn more about it. These are common daily activities that may cause pain caused by a vascular problem.
If you’re experiencing leg pain at night, it could be a sign of PAD. Many people who experience pain in their legs note that it occurs during an activity such as walking or working. Once they relax, the pain subsides.
If pain is keeping you awake at night, you might have something called critical limb ischemia, which is the most severe form of PAD. If you have CLI, your pain may last throughout the night and not go away at all.
Some people experience symptoms of PAD when waking up and resuming activity after resting through the night. This pain and cramping feeling is the result of claudication.
Step-by-Step Guide on Treating Leg Pain
If pain is getting in the way of your life and causing you discomfort, it’s important that you get diagnosed and start receiving treatment for the pain. No one has to suffer.
The first step is diagnosing the problem. PAD is often the sign of other even more serious underlying problems such as artery clogging around your heart and brain. These two issues can lead to heart attack and stroke, so you mustn’t wait.
Doctors diagnose PAD using an ankle-brachial index, which is a painless test used to monitor blood flow through your arms and legs.
If the doctor notices that blood flows much better through your arms compared to your legs, they might move forwards with another noninvasive procedure such as a CTR or MRA to locate the blockage.
If you’re diagnosed with PAD, a vascular leg pain treatment plan will help. It’s recommended that you start with significant lifestyle changes such as:
- Quitting smoking
- Developing a cleaner diet
- Exercising (as approved)
In some cases, minimally invasive treatments such as angioplasty, stenting, and cryoplasty may be necessary.
The best outcome for treating leg pain is that it goes away, you’re able to develop a new lifestyle, and you never have to worry about it again.
You must get these issues taken care of sooner or later. If you’re noticing sores, shiny skin, and severe color changes in your feet - procedures like an angioplasty may not be able to save the extremity.
Occupations That May Cause Leg Pain
Any position that requires prolonged walking and standing is a hazard to your legs and feet. Jobs such as healthcare workers, school teachers, retail workers, and restaurant workers have the highest risk of leg pain issues.
Keep in mind that diet plays a major role in your ability to avoid PAD, so if you can maintain a healthy diet, you shouldn’t have to worry. Supporting your legs and feet with the proper shoes can also help reduce pain.
Medication for Leg Pain Treatment
You can take some medications to help with symptoms of PAD; most of them require a prescription.
- Aspirin - Taking a low dose aspirin to thin out your blood is a known treatment for those at risk for heart disease. Do not take aspirin with any other blood thinners.
- Antiplatelet Agents - Antiplatelet medications help prevent the blood from sticking together, which decreases your chances of developing a clot.
- Anticoagulants - An anticoagulant will also help prevent a blood clot by thinning out the blood. This can help keep blood flowing to your extremities even if you have narrow arteries due to plaque build-up.
Latest Research on Leg Pain for Vascular Disease
The latest research from Harvard tells us that avoiding tobacco, eating healthy, exercising, reducing stress, and caring for your feet are the essential steps you need to take to prevent PAD from becoming any worse.
In some cases, revascularization treatment is required to restore blood flow in the extremities. Doctors do this with a catheter in the blocked artery. They inflate a small balloon that opens the blockage. Then, a stent is inserted into the artery to keep it open. This method not only reduces the pain, but it can help save a limb that you would have otherwise lost.
If you’re experiencing unexplainable leg pain, you should speak with your doctor or another medical professional to see if PAD is the reason. The sooner you act, the better.