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My Legs Hurt

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I recently started a new strength training program, and my legs are SORE!  It hurts to walk and my hips ache.  My discomfort will only last a couple of days and I know why I’m hurting.  What about you?  Do you have pain when you walk?  How far can you walk?  A block, half a block?  Do you ever get cramps in your buttocks, thighs, or calves?  Does it get better when you rest?  Do you have sores on your shins or feet, that don’t seem to get any better?  You might have peripheral artery disease, or PAD.

September is PAD Awareness Month.  PAD affects 8.5 million Americans, and often goes underdiagnosed and undertreated.  PAD develops when arteries become clogged with plaque and fatty deposits that limit blood flow to legs.  People with PAD have cramps and fatigue most often in their buttocks, thighs, and/or calves that gets better when they rest.  They can also have sores or ulcers on their lower legs and feet that heal poorly.  Not only does PAD affect your daily life, it also greatly increases your risk of heart attack and stroke.

Some of the risk factors for PAD are smoking, elevated cholesterol, diabetes, and high blood pressure.  Smoking alone can increase your risk by 2-6X that of a nonsmoker!  By eating right, being physically active, keeping a healthy weight, and not smoking, you can greatly decrease your risk of not only PAD but many other chronic illnesses.

If diagnosed in the early stages, PAD can be treated with appropriate lifestyle modifications and drug therapies. If blockages are more severe, minimally invasive revascularization technologies are needed, such as athrectomy and angioplasty.  However, if the disease isn’t diagnosed until critical limb ischemia occurs, interventional therapy is more costly.  Sometimes the limb cannot be salvaged and the patient must undergo amputation.

Hutchinson Regional Medical Center is a leader in treating peripheral vascular disease.  Our cardiologists at the Heart & Vascular Center have a focused commitment to treating PAD and helping patients return to their everyday lives.  They are trained in the latest cutting edge technologies.  From drug eluting balloons and stenting to directional and orbital athrectomy, we are able make huge improvements in our patients’ lives.

If you suffer from the symptoms of peripheral artery disease, please contact your physician.  The sooner you’re diagnosed, the sooner you can begin treatment, and get back to living life again.