Symptoms of Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD) and How to Manage Them

Symptoms of Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD) and How to Manage Them

Walking pain is the primary sign of peripheral artery disease (PAD). Advanced PAD might result in symptoms that require emergency care, including pain while at rest.

Similar to coronary artery disease, PAD is brought on by plaque accumulation in certain arteries. Reduced blood flow and obstructions result from that accumulation.

Peripheral arteries, which connect your heart to other regions of your body, are affected by PAD. Although the majority of persons with PAD experience symptoms in their legs and feet, 10% of people may also have symptoms in their hands and arms.

Although a tiny percentage of persons may not show any symptoms at all, PAD typically has early warning indicators. Find out more about PAD symptoms and the possible treatments that a physician may suggest.


Aches and pains are two of the most typical signs of PAD. This kind of pain frequently starts with regular physical activity, like walking, and goes away when you rest. The muscles in your lower body, like your legs and hips, are typically affected.

Pain may continue even when at rest as PAD worsens.

Even if PAD makes physical activity painful, it's still necessary to exercise regularly to improve blood flow throughout your body. At least three times a week of exercise may be advised by a physician.

Limb ischemia and PAD

One severe variant of PAD that can cause considerable pain when at rest is critical limb ischemia. The development of critical limb ischemia takes a while. Abrupt symptoms could be a sign of acute limb ischemia, a life-threatening condition.

"Lung ischemia" denotes a potentially dangerous state of circulation in one of your limbs, usually your leg. "Ischemia" is defined as a reduction in blood flow. Limb ischemia can result in gangrene, tissue death, or amputation if treatment is not received.


PAD cramps frequently accompany pain. PAD-related cramps, also known as intermittent claudication, occur when your muscles don't receive enough blood when you're exercising. Even while they often afflict your legs, excruciating cramps can also extend to your feet and buttocks.

Pain and cramps can make it harder for you to walk. However, maintaining an active lifestyle is crucial to lowering PAD symptoms and consequences linked to the heart.

Your doctor can suggest an at-home workout regimen or register you in a programme under supervision. They can set a target for you to walk continuously for up to thirty minutes at a time.

Numbness or tingling

Pain and cramping from PAD may be accompanied by numbness or tingling. During physical exertion, you may most noticeably feel them in your calf muscles and throughout your legs.

On the other hand, acute limb ischemia may be indicated if you suddenly lose feeling in your foot or leg when you're at rest. If you experience abrupt paleness coupled with these symptoms, dial 911 or your local emergency number immediately. Treatment with emergency medicine is necessary to help avoid amputation.

Skin discoloration

Skin darkening may eventually result from a PAD obstruction. Patches of skin on your feet, toes, or legs may be affected by this. Skin discolorations might be blue black, or pale.

This could potentially be a sign of acute limb ischemia, which has to be treated every once.

Temperature changes

You could notice variations in skin temperature when PAD results in a blockage or a reduction in blood flow. In certain situations, you may find that one of your legs is noticeably colder than the other. Additionally, it could feel colder than other body areas.

Seek emergency medical attention if your body temperature fluctuates, as this could also be a sign of acute limb ischemia.


Ulcers may appear as PAD worsens, especially in the lower limbs, feet, and toes. These wounds might heal more slowly than usual, and once they do, they might come back. In severe cases, infections result from the PAD ulcers' incomplete healing.

People with diabetes and PAD are more likely to develop infected ulcers. A doctor may suggest antibiotics or hospitalisation based on the severity of the infection.

Regularly wearing shoes and socks that fit properly can help prevent pressure ulcers caused by PAD.

Reduced nail and hair growth

Over time, the growth of your toenails and leg hair may be impacted by the decreased blood circulation caused by PAD. Your hair and toenails may appear brittle, break easily, and regrow more slowly than normal.

Although there isn't a single treatment for this condition's effects on nail and hair development, managing PAD itself may eventually help to reduce these symptoms.

Does peripheral artery disease always cause symptoms?

Not all cases of PAD have obvious symptoms. One in five PAD patients, according to experts, do not exhibit symptoms.

According to a 2021 study paper, screening is crucial to identify PAD early and assist prevent consequences in both symptomatic and asymptomatic individuals.

It's crucial to visit a doctor for routine checks whether or not you are experiencing symptoms of PAD, especially if you have any risk factors like:
  • diabetes
  • cardiovascular disease
  • a history of smoking


Does walking help with PAD pain?

Once more, walking is frequently suggested as a workout for PAD because it helps you go farther without experiencing pain.

Is milk good for PAD?

Reduce your intake of alcohol, sweets, salt, and the saturated fats found in many animal products. Reduce your intake of meat, pork, skin-on chicken, and dairy products made from whole or 2% milk. You should also stay away from artificial trans fats and coconut or palm oil.

Can you eat eggs if you have PAD?

You should still keep your diet low in cholesterol-containing foods. Foods high in cholesterol include organ meats, birds with skin, untrimmed or marbled meat, high-fat milk products, and egg yolks. Reduce the frequency of eating these foods.


Peripheral artery disease (PAD) is characterised by blockages that impede blood flow to various body organs. Your feet and legs are most likely to be affected by this condition.

It can be simple to confuse PAD for other disorders, such as arthritis because some of its symptoms can also be found in other illnesses. For this reason, if you're exhibiting any of the aforementioned symptoms, you must see a doctor.

If you have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, or other risk factors for PAD, along with its symptoms, you may also want to think about visiting a physician. Having a precise diagnosis can guarantee that you receive the necessary therapies to help avoid complications.

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