If the lining of arterial blood vessels in the legs becomes damaged or blocked for any reason, blood flow can be compromised and cause a number of health issues such as discomfort, cramping, or pain when walking. If you are experiencing severe leg pain because of poor circulation, you may have peripheral arterial disease (PAD). Leg pain can be managed effectively with exercise and certain lifestyle changes but surgery may be necessary if severe exercise-induced pain is affecting your lifestyle.
Medical Management of Leg Pain
Many doctors recommend making significant lifestyle changes and adopting healthy habits to prevent the progression of leg pain and peripheral arterial disease. Some of the most effective ways to manage leg pain include:
• Stop smoking – nicotine can cause constriction of the blood vessels and increase the risk of atherosclerosis. Smoking can also cause the blood to clot more readily.
• Get blood pressure under control – normalizing blood pressure with appropriate medication can reduce stress on the arteries.
• Eating a healthy diet – limiting intake of foods that are high in cholesterol, saturated fats, and salt can reduce the risk of hypertension and weight gain
• Exercising regularly – regular exercise is essential for good health. Patients who live a sedentary lifestyle are at a higher risk of developing leg pain and other health issues. Walking daily is recommended.
• Getting diabetes under control – controlling the effects of diabetes can keep the arteries healthy.
• Taking care of foot injuries and sores – if blood flow to the lower extremities is compromised, there may be delayed healing of sores on the feet, serious infections, or minor injuries. Proper foot care is essential.
• Pharmacologic therapy – taking medications including anti-platelet agents, anticoagulation agents, and medications that improve circulation in the lower extremities can help.
Surgery for Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD)
If medical management of leg pain and peripheral arterial disease symptoms is ineffective, surgery may be considered. Patients may undergo an angioplasty and stenting procedure or open surgery to restore proper circulation in the arteries.
- Angioplasty and stenting – involves inserting a small balloon into the artery to dilate the narrowed segment and break up the plaque deposits along the artery walls. Stents hold the blood vessel open to trap plaque against the arterial wall. Most patients undergoing this procedure require less than a 24-hour hospital stay.
- Open bypass – involves finding a healthy blood vessel above and below the area that has been blocked and rerouting blood flow to the area using a graft. Patients may need to stay in the hospital up to 7 days after this procedure.
Learn more about treatment for leg pain and peripheral arterial disease by scheduling your appointment at our Los Angeles or Glendale office today.