What are PAD symptoms that sufferers may experience as the disease develops and progresses? Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD), or atherosclerosis as it is also called, happens because of a buildup of cholesterol and unhealthy fat in the arteries leading to the arms and legs. As the arterial blockage worsens over time, the body’s blood circulation is affected. What are some common signs and symptoms of PAD?
- Sometimes PAD sufferers have no symptoms at all. Even with worsening blockages, as many as 50% of all PAD patients report no obvious signs and symptoms of the disease. It is important that anyone with PAD risk factors, such as diabetes, heart disease or high blood pressure, discuss PAD risk with health care providers as the condition is often present without symptoms.
- Leg cramps during physical activity is a common symptom of PAD. PAD sufferers frequently experience painful leg cramping in thighs, calves, hips or buttocks during physical activity. This is because leg circulation is most often affected by PAD.
- Numbness and weakness in the legs is a symptom of PAD. As circulation is impacted, blood flow into and through the legs may be greatly diminished. Decreased circulation may cause numbness, tingling or a weak feeling in the affected leg or legs.
- Change of temperature in the affected leg or legs. A leg affected by PAD may be colder than the other leg—or than other parts of the body. This temperature drop is usually most noticed in the foot or lower leg.
- Decrease in physical endurance—especially when walking. While PAD is most common in the legs, other body parts may be affected as well. In spite of the location of the arterial blockage, many sufferers report impacted physical strength in both speed and endurance.
- Healing problems are often seen as a symptom of PAD. Sores, cuts and wounds may heal more slowly, or not at all, on the legs and feet of PAD sufferers. Again, the lack of blood circulation into the affected areas limits the body’s natural healing responses.
- Redness or skin color changes in the affected leg. PAD sufferers may note that the skin color of an affected leg is different than the coloring of the other leg. This is a side effect of the reduced blood flow through the limb.
- Growth of hair and toenails is slower than normal in a PAD affected leg. The nutrients and blood circulation required for growing hair and toenails on the feet and legs is often reduced by PAD. This reduction leads to a slowed growth rate of both hair and toenails.
- Weakened pulse in the affected leg or foot. Poor circulation affects pulse strength in a leg affected by PAD. In some cases, if the atherosclerosis is severe, a detectable pulse may be nonexistent in the lower leg or foot of a PAD patient.
- Men suffering from PAD may also suffer from erectile dysfunction. Blood circulation, physical endurance and lower body strength are impacted during PAD. Men suffering from poor circulation, as well as other PAD risk factors, often experience sexual side effects such as erectile dysfunction.