Leg Pain While Walking? You Could Be Battling This Condition

Have you been feeling pain in your legs while walking? Do not ignore it since it might indicate a condition that could put you at risk of serious heart and brain problems.  

Leg pain while walking can be a sign of peripheral artery disease (PAD). The people with this condition are known for higher chances of cardiovascular problems, such as heart attack and a stroke.

PAD affects both men and women. It commonly occurs due to aging, high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol and long term exposure to cigarette smoke, according to Harvard Medical School

The people with PAD feel pain because of the fatty deposits in arteries of the leg. These deposits block blood flow to muscles as well as the arteries supporting the heart and brain.

Symptoms of PAD include cramping and pain in the calves, thighs, hips or buttocks. But PAD only affects muscles and not joints. 

It also appears different from muscle soreness caused by exercise. A PAD-related leg pain only occurs during movement and stops after a short rest unlike soreness caused by exercise that could last for hours or days.

“It might happen when you are walking up a flight of stairs or up a hill, and you might find yourself frequently stopping for breaks,” Aruna Pradhan, a cardiologist and assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, said. 

But in some cases, PAD might cause leg pain even while sitting or lying down. Some people might also experience a change in color on the feet, slow-healing sores on the feet, coldness in one or both feet and slow growth of leg hair or toenails.

PAD Treatments

Doctors commonly recommend lifestyle changes to treat PAD. Regular exercise, following a healthy diet and avoiding smoking should help reduce the condition’s symptoms. 

“Once PAD is diagnosed and you know why you are having symptoms, doctors encourage people to do more physical activity to help keep them functional,” Pradhan said.

There are also medications available for the condition. Doctors may prescribe statins, which could help prevent formation of fatty deposits, drugs for blood pressure management and aspirin to prevent clots. A surgery could be an option when the blood flow blockage worsens. 

Public Commute People standing on the train during the rush hour in the city. Pixabay