Do You Have Leg Pain?
Get Screened to Rule Out a Serious Condition!
By Omar Chohan DO
Leg pain can cause a range of sensations — from a dull ache to an intense stabbing sensation. Fortunately, most leg pain occurs due to minor injuries; however, leg pain can also result from more serious conditions.
Peripheral Arterial Disease. Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD) is a vascular disease that affects the body’s arteries (the vessels that carry oxygen-rich blood away from the heart to the body’s tissues). Smoking, diabetes, kidney disease, genetics, and poor diet are risk factors. PAD affects arteries of the upper and lower extremities. Symptoms include cool limbs, numbness, leg pain with brief exercise, resting leg pain, and ulcerations. PAD can be treated using minimally invasive techniques, including minimally invasive surgery, which can help save limbs and lives.
Deep vein thrombosis (DVT). Blood clots in the leg, also called Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT), can form in the lower leg, thigh, or pelvis. DVT is caused by prolonged rest or travel, genetics, obesity, pregnancy, blood disorders, and cancer. When clots form they block the blood flow from the lower extremity back to the heart, producing leg swelling and heaviness, resulting in leg pain, warmth, and redness. Untreated DVT can cause post-thrombotic syndrome (PTS) which results when DVT causes long-term damage to the valves in the veins. Symptoms of PTS include pain, swelling, discoloration, scaling of the skin, and ulcers. PTS can sometimes lead to permanent disability. DVT can be treated with minimally invasive medical techniques, including surgery to improve life quality.
Venous Insufficiency. Venous insufficiency occurs when veins have trouble sending blood from the limbs back to the heart, causing blood to pool in the leg veins forming blood clots and varicose veins. It is more common in women than men, and in those over age 50. Risk factors include blood clots, varicose veins, obesity, pregnancy, smoking, cancer, muscle weakness, leg injury, trauma, phlebitis, genetics, and sitting or standing for long periods of time without moving. Symptoms include leg and ankle swelling; leg heaviness, weakness, cramping, aching, throbbing, ulcers, skin-thickening, and varicose veins; calf tightness, thickening of leg skin or ankles; change in skin color, especially around the ankles; and worsening pain that improves when legs are raised.
Treatment of these conditions requires a variety of methods to normalize blood flow to your legs. Consultation with vascular interventional radiologists can diagnose and manage your ailment. Blood clots in your arteries and veins should be treated urgently to prevent permanent injury. Most importantly, eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly and avoid smoking and alcohol will help make you feel better and reduce your chances of getting arterial and venous disease.
Omar Chohan DO is a vascular interventional radiologist at Great Lakes Medical Imaging. If you are experiencing leg pain and would like to make an appointment to determine the cause, call 836-4646 to be seen at a location that is most convenient to your home.