Leg pain often gets dismissed as fatigue, muscle strain, or aging. However, persistent leg pain could indicate underlying problems with your veins and arteries.
Gary Nackman, MD, FACS, is a board-certified vascular surgeon and the founder of NJ Vein Care and Aesthetics Center in Oradell and Clifton, New Jersey. Dr. Nackman and his team specialize in diagnosing and treating vascular conditions that affect the health and well-being of your circulatory system.
Read these basics from our team regarding the conditions that can cause leg pain and why we recommend you not ignore ongoing symptoms.
Vascular disease and benefits of early detection
Ignoring persistent leg pain may mean overlooking potential problems with your veins and arteries. Conditions such as chronic venous insufficiency (CVI), peripheral artery disease (PAD), and deep vein thrombosis (DVT) often manifest as discomfort or pain in the legs.
Along with pain that may come and go, these conditions often accompany symptoms such as:
- Swelling that may affect one or both legs and worsen with prolonged sitting or standing
- Skin changes such as excessive dryness or shiny appearance to the skin
- Open leg ulcers (sores) that never seem to heal
- Fatigue in the legs or the sensation of heaviness
- Throbbing leg discomfort
- Muscle cramping, especially with activity
- Varicose veins
Early detection can lead to timely intervention, preventing the progression of these conditions and reducing the risk of complications. Our team recommends scheduling an evaluation if you experience persistent leg pain or other concerning symptoms.
Health complications related to chronic vascular disease
Vascular conditions can affect any area but frequently manifest first in the legs, causing veins and arteries to narrow or become inflamed, resulting in:
Increased risk of blood clots
Persistent leg pain may be a sign of a blood clot in the veins, which can lead to serious consequences if left untreated.
Deep vein thrombosis typically occurs in the legs when a blood clot forms in a deep vein. If a clot breaks loose and travels to the lungs, it can cause a pulmonary embolism (PE), a potentially life-threatening condition.
Leg pain related to a DVT usually occurs below the knee and is often accompanied by redness, warmth, and swelling in the affected leg.
Peripheral artery disease (PAD)
Cramping leg pain, particularly during physical activity, could be an indication of peripheral artery disease (PAD).
PAD occurs when there is plaque buildup in the arteries supplying blood to the legs and feet. Ignoring this pain may lead to decreased mobility and an increased risk of cardiovascular events, such as heart attacks or strokes.
Varicose veins and chronic venous insufficiency
Persistent leg pain might also be venous issues such as varicose veins or chronic venous insufficiency.
While these conditions may not be immediately life-threatening, they can significantly impact your quality of life. Varicose veins can cause discomfort and cosmetic concerns, and chronic venous insufficiency may lead to skin changes and non-healing ulcers if not addressed.
Diabetes and vascular complications
You should address ongoing leg pain if you have diabetes; it can contribute to vascular complications, including peripheral neuropathy and poor circulation.
Nerve damage and reduced blood flow to the legs can result in pain, infections, decreased mobility, and slow wound healing. Regular monitoring of leg symptoms is crucial for individuals with diabetes to prevent serious complications.
Schedule an evaluation today at NJ Vein Care and Aesthetics Center for early diagnosis and treatment. Call our Oradell or Clifton, New Jersey office or request an appointment online.