Leg pain in older adults can often be a sign of peripheral vascular disease (PVD). PVD is a slow and progressive disorder causing narrowing or blockages of the blood vessels. This narrowing limits the amount of oxygen and nutrients circulating in your body. Leg cramps in older adults are often the result of this poor circulation. In addition to age, there are certain risk factors that make an individual more susceptible to PAD such as:
- Smoking (or prior history of smoking)
- High Blood Pressure
Peripheral vascular disease (PVD) may also be called peripheral arterial disease (PAD). People who have PVD may have symptoms that include dull cramping and pain that comes and goes in the legs, heaviness or tightness in the leg muscles, leg or foot that feels cool or cold to the touch compared to the other leg, a burning sensation in the legs, leg fatigue, skin color changes, and even loss of hair on the leg.
During physical activity, such as walking, your muscles need increased blood flow. If your blood vessels are narrowed or blocked, your muscles won’t get enough blood, which may lead to symptoms mentioned above. When resting, the muscles need less blood flow, so the symptoms will often go away.
Those individuals diagnosed with PVD are at higher risk for heart attack, stroke, and even amputation. These blockages can cause major health concerns if they break off and travel to another part of the body causing a stroke or other complications. For this reason, it is important to be seen by a physician if you suspect PVD.
Dr. Thomas Wehmann, a member of the CRH Surgical Group, is Board Certified in both Vascular Surgery and General Surgery. He has 30 years of experience as a vascular surgeon and has treated thousands of patients with PVD. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Wehmann you may call CRH Surgical Group directly at (912) 384-5832 or speak with your family physician about a referral.