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Peripheral Arterial Disease of the Legs - Symptoms

Many people who have peripheral arterial disease (PAD) don't have symptoms.

If you do have symptoms, you may have a tight, aching, or squeezing pain in your calf, thigh, or buttock. This pain, called intermittent claudication, usually happens after you have walked a certain distance.

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For example, your pain may always start after you have walked a block or two or after a few minutes. The pain goes away if you stop walking. As PAD gets worse, you may have pain in your foot or toe when you aren't walking.

Only about 1 out of 5 people with PAD have intermittent claudication.1

Other symptoms of peripheral arterial disease of the legs may include:

  • Weak or tired legs.
  • Difficulty walking or balancing.
  • Cold and numb feet or toes.
  • Sores that are slow to heal.
  • Foot pain while you are at rest, which means that PAD is getting worse.
  • Erectile dysfunction.
  • Pain in the thighs, hips, and buttocks. These symptoms may be caused by Leriche's syndrome, a type of PAD.

More severe symptoms, such as skin changes on the feet or legs, may be a sign of advanced PAD.

Some people may not report symptoms to their doctors. This may happen in:

  • People who have a high pain tolerance.
  • People who have other health problems such as diabetes with numbness in their legs. This can prevent them from feeling pain.
  • People who never exert themselves long enough for leg pain to start.

Whatever the reason, not reporting symptoms can make it harder for doctors to diagnose the disease.

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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: May 17, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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