Thanks to everyone who joined us Tuesday, March 24 for the live online chat entitled “What’s causing your leg pain?,” hosted by Emory Heart & Vascular Center physician Greg Robertson, MD.
According to the American Heart Association, many people mistake the symptoms of peripheral artery disease (PAD) for something else, which is why it can easily go undiagnosed. Having the correct diagnosis is important because people with PAD are at a higher risk of heart attack or stroke, and if untreated, PAD can lead to gangrene and amputation. Check out the conversation with Dr. Robertson regarding PAD by viewing the chat transcript! Here are just a few highlights from the chat:
Question: Exercise makes the pain in my left leg worse. What are some suggestions to help alleviate the pain and still be able to exercise? How do I fix this problem for good?
Dr. Robertson: My first recommendation would be to see your doctor to pursue the cause of the pain. There are many causes of exercise-related leg pain, and it may be solved as simply as talking to your physician about your health history and getting a physical. Some simple testing may also be recommended by your physician. PAD is one possibility for exercise-related pain, and if the patient has diabetes, a history of smoking, or is over 70 years old, the possibility of PAD is more likely.
Question: My right leg from my lower back all the way down to my foot hurts. What makes it hurt?
Dr. Robertson: There are many different causes for these symptoms, First and foremost I would suggest making an appointment with your physician so he/she can get a feel for your medical history and perform a physical. This will help your physician narrow testing recommendations in order to make an accurate diagnosis. One possibility is that you have sciatica, but unfortunately, I can’t speak to your situation accurately without seeing you in person. An accurate diagnosis would have to be made by your physician.
Question: What precautions need to be taken when diagnosed with PAD?
Dr. Robertson: Patients diagnosed with PAD should be under the care of a vascular physician. Preventative care with healthy living habits and risk factor modification is of the utmost importance. Depending on the severity and each individual’s case, your vascular physician will review the options of medical treatment vs. minimally invasive procedures or surgery.
Question: I keep getting pain in my calves, told I have no clots but it’s getting worse. What do I do?
Dr. Robertson: Does the pain in your calf come on only with exercise, and if yes, does it promptly go away with rest? If this is the pattern of your calf pain, it strongly suggests the possibility of peripheral artery disease (PAD) and the chances of this are increased if you also have the risk factors of diabetes, smoking, and/or are over the age of 70.
Question: Just diagnosed with neuropathy. No diabetes or alcohol disease. I am 72. Any advice?
Dr. Robertson: There are many different causes of lower extremity neuropathy. PAD, especially in a diabetic and occasionally in non-diabetics, can be one cause. Usually a simple PAD screening test such as the ankle- brachial index (ABI) can clarify whether there is significant PAD as a potential cause of your lower-extremity neuropathy.
If you missed this chat, be sure to check out the full list of questions and answers on the web transcript. For more information on peripheral artery disease, visit emoryhealthcare.org/vascular.
If you have additional questions for Dr. Robertson, feel free to leave a comment in our comments area below.