Are many reasons that could be behind a pain of legsbut when this pain occurs when walking and the discomfort even forces you to stop walkingmay be caused by the Peripheral arterial disease.
This pathology consists of a involvement of the arteries responsible for supplying blood to the extremitiesmainly to the legs, that suffer from narrowing (stenosis) or occlusion that blocks or reduces and hinders blood flow.
This sickness is associated with the atherosclerosis, which is the accumulation of fatty deposits (atheromatous plaques) on the wall of the arteries, progressively advancing until they occupy the entire blood vessel.
The first symptoms may go unnoticed
As the head of the Angiology and Vascular Surgery Unit at Hospital Ruber Internacional explains, Dr. Pablo Gallo, In the initial stages of the disease, the symptoms are subtle and go unnoticed.
However, as the narrowing progresses and blood flow in the arteries decreases, symptoms begin. first discomforts:
Sensation of tingling and/or cramps in the legs.
Appearance of pain when walking, even if it is very few meters. This type of pain is called intermittent claudication.
He pain can progress and suffer even when lying down.
“They also appear skin disorders as the presence of lesions that lead to problems with the healing of ulcers that do not heal,” explains the angiologist.
He color of the legs becomes pale.
- Continuous cold sensation in the feet or absence of pulse in them.
And why does the Peripheral arterial disease?
Well, the specialist points out that there are a series of factors that increase the risk of developing peripheral arterial disease. The most important are:
Suffering from diabetes mellitus.
Suffering from high blood pressure.
Have very high cholesterol levels.
Lead a very sedentary lifestyle.
All of them are controllable factors, but Dr. Gallo points out that there are others “such as age and family history that cannot be controlled.”
How is peripheral arterial disease diagnosed?
The first thing that Dr. Gallo warns is that, if any of the symptoms seen appear, you should go to a specialist to be able to perform:
An early diagnosis
Control risk factors
And, in this way, slow down the progression of the disease.
In this sense, “when the patient comes for consultation, a complete medical history must be taken to identify risk factors, in addition to a thorough physical examination,” explains the specialist.
“The diagnosis is complemented by performing an Echo-Doppler, tool that provides us with information about the state of blood circulation since calculates blood flow in blood vessels bouncing high frequency sound waves.
On some occasions, it is necessary to extend the study by carrying out a arteriography or other imaging tests to evaluate the degree of involvement and the extent of the disease,” adds the Dr. Santiago Zubicoahead of the Interventional Vascular Radiology Unit at Hospital Ruber Internacional.
Control of risk factors is essential for treatment
All these tests will confirm the presence of peripheral arterial disease and its severity. Depending on the state of the blood vessels, one type of treatment or another will be chosen. But in any case, Controlling risk factors is essential.
This is how Dr. Pablo Gallo explains it:
“The control of risk factors and the adoption of a healthy lifestyle are essential components in the management of vascular diseases, maintaining good control of blood pressure, as well as adequate blood glucose and cholesterol levels, following a balanced diet, abstaining from tobacco consumption, performing daily physical activity and, it is essential, foot care and the use of appropriate footwear.”
In fact, the specialist warns that “once peripheral arterial disease is diagnosed, prevention of foot injury is imperative.”
At the same time that the risk factors are modified and controlled, the Pharmacotherapy (medicines anticoagulantsto control cholesterol, glucose or blood pressure).
In more severe cases, it may be necessary to resort to treatments aimed at revascularization to get more blood to the legs. We talk about surgeries such as angioplasty, placement of stent or even the realization of a bypass.
“The comprehensive approach to the patient is crucial to guarantee a effective management of peripheral arterial disease focused on improving quality of life and reducing risk of complications such as loss of limb,” concludes Dr. Gallo.