Not everyone experiences symptoms when he or she has PAD. So, if you’re at risk for the disease (if you have diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, a sedentary lifestyle, or are a smoker) be sure to talk with your doctor about testing for PAD.
However, those who do have symptoms may experience the following:
1) Leg pain or cramping (in the hips, thighs or calves) made worse by activity, such as walking, running or climbing.
2) Feeling weak or numb in your leg.
3) Changes in the appearance of your leg, such as color, a slowing of hair growth or hair loss on the legs, a slowing of toenail growth, thickening toenails, or shiny skin.
4) A feeling of coldness in your foot or lower leg.
5) Sores on your legs, feet or toes that just won’t heal.
6) (As the condition worsens) Leg pain or cramping while at rest, sometimes bad enough to keep you from sleeping.
You’re the kind of person who calls the plumber when your pipes are seriously out of order, aren’t you? Well, because peripheral arterial disease is so serious, it’s important to check with your doctor about it. This is especially important if you’re experiencing any of the above symptoms, are over 70, or if you have any risk factors for the disease.
Like any good doctor, your podiatrist will ask you about your symptoms, get a thorough medical history, and will perform a physical exam. One of the more common tests for PAD is the Ankle-brachial index (or ABI), which compares the blood pressure in your arm to the blood pressure in your ankle.
Ultrasound and angiography (looking at blood vessels, often by using injected dye) can also help your doctor understand how blood is flowing through your legs, and find any blockages that may be present.