Symptoms of PAD
• Muscle cramps in the calves, hips or thighs, when climbing stairs, exercising or walking is the first indication of peripheral artery disease. This pain decreases once the activity ceases. This cramping is referred to as intermittent claudication. It is the body's way of letting the individual know more blood flow is required.
• Symptoms of advanced peripheral arterial disease include chronic leg pain, sores on the feet or toes that will not heal, gangrene, or a decrease in temperature in the affected limb. Severe blockage can also cause numbness of the arms or legs and muscles may actually atrophy. The appendages may also turn blue and it can be difficult to find a pulse. Other rarer symptoms include a decrease in growth of the nails and hair on the PAD limb.
• With peripheral artery disease that actually blocks the lower aorta both legs can experience pain, numbness or a decrease in temperature. In less severe cases pain can occur alternately in the thighs and buttocks. The legs may also be pale or feel cool to the touch. Men may experience erectile dysfunction. This group of symptoms is called Lerich Syndrome.
• Narrowing of the arteries of the kidney will usually display no symptoms but severe blockage can result in renal failure with sudden side pain and blood in the urine.
• The superior mesenteric artery that supplies the gut can also narrow or become blocked. Vomiting and a sudden need for a bowel movement are initial symptoms. Acute abdominal pain will occur in severe cases. With only a slight narrowing of this artery pain occurs around 45 minutes after a meal because this is when the intestine requires more blood to aid digestion. As a result the patient may refuse to eat and this can lead to weight loss.
• Narrowing or blockage of the arteries to the liver and spleen can cause damage to each organ but there are rarely symptoms