Posts Tagged ‘pad symptoms’

Takeaways from Dr. Robertson’s PAD Live Chat

PAD Leg PainThanks 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?

Gregory Robertson, MDDr. 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?

Gregory Robertson, MDDr. 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?

Gregory Robertson, MDDr. 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?

Gregory Robertson, MDDr. 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?

Gregory Robertson, MDDr. 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

If you have additional questions for Dr. Robertson, feel free to leave a comment in our comments area below.





Understanding Peripheral Vascular Disease

PVDDo you experience painful muscle cramps in your hips, thighs or calves when moving around? You may be surprised to learn that this is the primary symptom of peripheral vascular disease (PVD). PVD is defined as diseases of the arteries outside of the heart and brain. PVD is a term used interchangeably with peripheral artery disease, or PAD, but PVD encompasses diseases of the arteries AND veins.

Arteries move blood away from the heart, and PAD typically involves the narrowing of the arteries that transport blood to the arms and legs. Veins take the blood back to the heart and generally don’t get narrowed with cholesterol, but rather develop another very common condition called chronic venous insufficiency (varicose veins).

PAD – Arteries

Many patients go undiagnosed because the symptoms can be attributed to something else, such as arthritis, a neuropathy or normal stiffness that occurs with aging. Patients with PAD may also experience numbness, weakness or coldness in one or both legs. Often the symptoms come on slowly and the patient starts altering their life style and become more sedentary.

On the other hand, at least half of people who suffer from PAD have no signs or indications at all. Risk factors for PAD include aging, personal or family history, cardiovascular disease or stroke. Controllable risk factors include:

  • Cigarette smoking
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Physical inactivity
  • High blood cholesterol
  • High blood pressure Renal failure

Chronic Venous Insufficiency

This is more common than PAD and may start at an early age. The symptoms of this may include any one or more of the following: legs feeling heavy or tired especially at the end of the day, mild swelling of ankles, severe cramps at night time, restless legs, itching of legs, or formation of visible veins on the leg. In severe cases the skin around the ankle area may get darker in color and sores may form, generally above the ankle, which are slow to heal.

Some of the risk factors include age, family history of varicose veins, obesity, standing for long periods on hard surfaces and history of blood clots or phlebitis in the leg.

If you have any of the above symptoms or would like to discuss your risk factors, talk to your healthcare provider. PVD diagnosis begins with a physical examination.

At Emory, treatment of PVD is a combined effort within the Emory Heart & Vascular Center, the Division of Vascular Surgery and Endovascular Therapy and Interventional Radiology. To make an appointment, call 404-778-7777.

About Khusrow Niazi, MD

Khusrow Niazi, MDDr. Niazi specializes in interventional cardiology, carotid artery disease, peripheral artery disease and venous disease of the legs. He has been practicing at Emory since 2003. He has been involved in many trials in treating blockages in the carotid arteries and leg arteries with less invasive options. Dr. Niazi is involved in trials focused on the removal of plaque from the leg arteries with less invasive methods. He also has treated many patients with chronic venous insufficiency and varicose veins.