Peripheral Vascular Disease Symptoms
People may not feel any symptoms from PVD at first. That’s because approximately half the people diagnosed are symptom-free. For others, the most common first symptom is intermittent claudication (IC) in the calf that happens when walking but goes away when resting when muscles need less blood flow.
Those afflicted may not always feel pain but instead a tightness, heaviness, cramping, or weakness in the leg with activity. Over time, people may begin to feel IC more quickly while walking. Only about 50 percent of those with leg artery disease have blockages severe enough to experience IC.
In severe peripheral vascular disease, people may develop painful sores on toes or feet. If leg circulation does not improve, these ulcers can start as dry, gray, or black sores, and eventually become dead tissue (called gangrene).
Other symptoms of peripheral vascular disease may include:
- changes in the skin, including decreased skin temperature, or thin, brittle shiny skin on the legs and feet
- diminished pulses in the legs and the feet
- gangrene (dead tissue due to lack of blood flow)
- hair loss on the legs
- non-healing wounds over pressure points, such as heels or ankles
- numbness, weakness, or heaviness in muscles
- pain (described as burning or aching) at rest, commonly in the toes and at night while lying flat
- pallor (paleness) when the legs are elevated
- reddish-blue discoloration of the extremities
- restricted mobility
- severe pain
- thickened, opaque toenails
The symptoms of peripheral vascular disease may resemble other conditions. Consult your physician for a diagnosis.
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