How often do you ignore pain, hoping it will pass or alternatively silence it by popping a pain killer? A majority of people we know do the same. However, if it is a recurrent pain, ignoring it can lead to serious repercussions. And without trying to scare you, doctors warn it could be Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD), which is a fatal disease.
For the uninitiated, PAD is the disease of the arteries supplying the limbs and the abdominal organs. It can occur either in the form of ballooning following weakening of the wall (aneurysm) or in the form of blockages following deposition of cholesterol in the arterial wall that causes narrowing of the lumen and reduction of blood supply to the part supplied by the involved artery. The most common sign of PAD is leg pain.
So how do you identify the PAD pain? Here’s how. While walking, if you feel a cramp like pain in the calf, thigh or buttocks, which settles as you stop walking, is a sign of the onset of the disease. This pain comes back when you start walking again. Sometimes the pain can even make you limp. “Another sort of pain is the burning sensation in the distal part of the leg (foot) that is present even at rest and gets worse on elevating or placing the foot on the bed and is relieved by hanging the leg down over the edge of the bed. This pain indicates that PAD has reached an advanced stage and needs immediate medical intervention,” Dr Paresh Pai, vascular surgeon, The Vascular Clinic, Mumbai.
The most common causes of PAD are tobacco, cholesterol, diabetes, hypertension and even sedentary activity. Another prominent reason is Vitamin B12 deficiency, which is more prevalent in vegetarians. B12 is commonly found in fish, meat and egg.
So do not ignore leg pain. If detected in time, you can fix it with lifestyle changes. And if it reaches an advanced stage, you can lose a limb or worse, your life.