Do you experience leg pain at night that interrupts your sleep? That could be more than just a normal sign of aging.
Peripheral Artery Disease and Leg Pain at Night
Peripheral artery disease or peripheral arterial disease (PAD) in the lower extremities can cause leg pain at night.
PAD leg pain can be felt anywhere in the legs – from the hips down to the calves. The painful cramping on the leg muscles (also known as claudication) can occur when walking, climbing stairs, or exercising. However, when you take a rest, the pain usually subsides.
Leg Pain at Rest
If you’re experiencing night time leg pain, you may be having critical limb ischemia (CLI).
CLI is a serious form of PAD. It occurs when there is severe blockage in the arteries of the lower extremities.
With CLI, there can be severe pain of the feet and toes even at rest. When left unmanaged, CLI can result in sores and wounds that don’t heal. This can lead to amputation of the affected limb.
Other Symptoms of PAD
Aside from the leg pain, people with PAD may also experience:
• muscle atrophy
• skin that is cool to touch
• hair loss
• smooth, shiny skin
• decreased or absent pulses in the skin
• sores or ulcers in the legs that don’t heal
• cold or numb toes
Risk Factors for PAD
Both men and women can develop PAD. A person can have a greater risk of developing the disease if one:
• has high blood pressure
• has atherosclerosis or buildup of cholesterol plaques in the arterial walls
• has diabetes
• has high blood cholesterol
• is over the age of 60
Diagnosing and Treating PAD
If your doctor suspects your symptoms to be of PAD, he/she may do an ankle brachial index (ABI). This is a noninvasive test that compares the blood pressure in your ankles with the blood pressure in the arms at rest and after exercise.
Aside from ABI, your doctor may also request for imaging tests such as magnetic resonance angiography (MRA), computed tomographic (CT) angiography, and ultrasound.
As with treatment, it depends greatly on the severity of your PAD, the existing risk factors, and your overall health.
Your doctor may recommend antiplatelet medicine such as aspirin to prevent complications of PAD. If you have high blood cholesterol, high blood pressure, and/or diabetes, you may also be recommended to take medications to regulate your blood cholesterol, pressure, and/or blood sugar.
If you’re a smoker, your doctor may recommend you to quit smoking. There are nicotine patches and other programs to help you quit. You can ask your doctor about them.
In worse cases, you may need surgery to bypass blocked arteries.
If you’re experiencing leg pain and other symptoms that you think are associated with PAD, please don’t hesitate to see a doctor. It’s important that you seek treatment immediately.
The board-certified Vascular Surgeons of Premier Surgical Vascular and Vein Center in Knoxville, TN, are THE experts in diagnosing and treating vascular issues such as PAD.
Request an appointment online, or call Premier Vascular and Vein Center at (865) 588-8229.