Do You Have One of These 5 Causes of Leg Pain?

  Do You Have One of These 5 Causes of Leg Pain?

 If your legs hurt, the reason might be obvious — maybe you pulled a muscle or worked out after a long break. But sometimes, leg pain can be vague and mild with no clear reason. In those cases, you should talk to a medical professional. 

At Heart & Vascular Institute, our highly trained providers talk to patients about leg pain more often than you might imagine because several heart and vascular problems can cause leg pain.

In fact, leg pain is sometimes the only symptom. Following are five heart and vascular issues that can cause leg pain. 

1. Peripheral artery disease (PAD)

PAD is the result of narrowed or blocked blood vessels in your legs. A fatty plaque buildup in your arteries causes them to be stiffer and narrower than they should be. This condition, called atherosclerosis, can lead to a heart attack when the blocked vessels are in your heart.

Any blood vessel can be blocked, but it’s most common in the legs and arms. The most likely symptom is pain in your legs when you’re active. For example, you may have pain in your calves while climbing stairs, but it stops when you reach the top. This pain is called claudication. 

PAD puts you at higher risk of coronary artery disease, which could lead to heart attack or stroke. The first line of PAD treatment is lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking, being active to help blood flow, and controlling other conditions like high blood pressure or diabetes. 

2. Deep vein thrombosis (DVT)

DVT is a blood clot in a deep vein, usually in your lower leg, pelvis, or thigh. DVT can cause swelling, pain or tenderness, cramping, aching, a feeling of warmth, or red, discolored skin. 

Sitting for a long time can raise your risk of DVT. In fact, anything that slows your blood flow can lead to a clot. Damage to the lining of your blood vessel or a change in the blood itself can cause clotting.

Some people are at higher risk because of a family history or having some other medical condition. Pregnant women and women who take birth control also have a higher risk. 

3. Pulmonary embolism

A pulmonary embolism (PE) is another type of blood clot. Rather than being in a deep vein, it’s in an artery in your lung. PE occurs suddenly, often because a blood clot somewhere else in your body broke loose and traveled to your lung.

PE can cause permanent lung damage, low oxygen levels, and damage to other organs. It can be life-threatening. If you have symptoms of a blood clot in your leg, your risk of PE is higher. 

4. Venous thromboembolism

Venous thromboembolism (VTE) is a blood clot in your vein. Deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism are types of venous thromboembolism. 

5. Varicose veins

More than 20% of adults in the United States have a venous condition called varicose veins. That’s when your veins enlarge and take on a rope-like appearance. They may be light blue or purple, usually occur in your legs and feet, and are visible just beneath your skin.

Varicose veins occur when the valves in your veins don’t work properly, making it more difficult for blood to move efficiently to your heart. Between each heartbeat, gravity pulls your blood back to your feet, and functioning valves prevent that.

Some people don’t have any other symptoms besides the appearance of varicose veins. Others, though, have heavy, aching legs, muscle cramps, a throbbing or burning sensation, swelling, and discomfort. 

Get help

PAD, DVT, and PE are all potentially serious problems, and varicose veins can lower your quality of life. Effective treatments and interventions exist. 

If you have leg pain, even relatively mild, schedule an appointment by phone or online today at a Heart & Vascular Institute office in Dearborn, Detroit, Southfield, or Wayne, Michigan.

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