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Diabetes And Leg Pain: Could It Be PAD (Peripheral Arterial Disease)?

Diabetes and leg pain

What To Know About Diabetes And Leg Pain?

Do you have diabetes and leg pain and wondering if you are suffering from peripheral arterial disease? Scroll down to find out how diabetes, leg pain, and peripheral arterial disease are interlinked.

According to the National Diabetes Statistics Report, it is revealed that 37.3 million people in the USA are suffering from diabetes and 96 million with prediabetes. Leg pain can be caused by physical strain or wear and tear, but it can also be a sign of an underlying medical condition.

Diabetes is a chronic condition where the sugar (glucose) levels in your blood are competitively higher than normal. This long-lasting condition will negatively impact the way your body converts food into energy. Regardless of age, anyone can suffer from diabetes.

Prediabetes, type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes, gestational diabetes, type 3c diabetes, neonatal diabetes, monogenic diabetes, and brittle diabetes are different types of diabetes. Out of all, 90% to 95% of people have type 2 diabetes, which is the most common condition.

If you are physically strained or have muscle cramps, you can feel pain in your legs. Injuries to leg muscles, bones, nerves, and ligaments can also cause leg pain. Blood clots, vein diseases, and even wear and tear can be the causes of your leg pain.

However, leg pain can be a symptom of an underlying medical condition, including bone conditions, arthritis, spine problems, fractures, muscle conditions, and many more. Leg pain is one of the initial and most common symptoms of peripheral arterial disease.

Connection Between PAD And Diabetes

PAD, or peripheral arterial disease, is a type of peripheral vascular disease where the arteries carrying the blood will become narrow due to the accumulation of fatty substances. The narrowed arteries restrict the blood flow to your limbs. Due to the reduced blood flow, you are likely to feel pain in your legs.

Diabetes is one of the risk factors and a common cause of peripheral arterial disease. So, if you have diabetes, you are at a higher risk of suffering from peripheral artery disease. It is because having diabetes increases your blood sugar levels along with cholesterol levels.

High cholesterol and high blood sugar are some of the primary causes of peripheral arterial disease. If the cholesterol levels in your body increase, the fatty deposits will accumulate, known as plaque. When the fatty substances are accumulated, it will narrow the arteries.

As mentioned above, if the arteries become narrow, they will carry less blood to your legs and arms. This insufficient blood flow leads to peripheral arterial disease.

There are some common risk factors for diabetes and peripheral arterial disease, such as:

  • High cholesterol
  • High blood pressure
  • Obesity or overweight
  • Family history
  • Sluggish lifestyle (sedentary behavior)
  • Smoking

Connection Between PAD And Leg Pain

The narrowed arteries will not be able to carry enough blood to your legs, which will restrict your daily life. For instance, when standing, sitting, walking, or even sleeping, you will experience pain or slight discomfort in your legs.

Apart from the pain, you may feel numbness or coldness in your legs, especially lower legs, ankles, and feet. Sometimes, you may experience a tingling sensation like standing on a pile of pins and needles. Leg pain caused by peripheral arterial disease can also lead to cramps in thighs, buttocks, and calves.

Connection Between PAD And Leg Pain

What Are The Common Symptoms Of Peripheral Arterial Disease And Diabetes?

The majority of people with PAD do not exhibit all of the symptoms in the early stage but may experience one or two symptoms. The most common symptoms of peripheral arterial disease include:

  • Pain or discomfort in your legs
  • Numbness or tired legs
  • Coldness in the lower legs, ankles, or feet
  • Redness or blue discolored legs
  • Pale limbs
  • Loss of pulse or weakened pulse
  • Non-healing wounds
  • Skin sores and skin infections
  • Frequent cramps, especially during nighttime in hips, calves, thighs, or buttocks
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Shiny or dry skin on your legs
  • Slow growth of toenails
  • Hair loss on your legs

Here are some symptoms that people suffering from diabetes may experience:

  • Urinating very often
  • Feeling thirsty very often
  • Fatigue and feeling extremely tired
  • Weight loss
  • Extreme hunger
  • Have ketones in the urine
  • Blurred vision
  • Slow-healing wounds
  • Dry skin and infections

The common PAD symptoms in diabetes are listed here:

  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Numbness and tingling sensation
  • Non-healing wounds
  • Skin sores
  • Shiny or dry skin
  • Skin infections

Diagnosing Peripheral Arterial Disease In Diabetes

Vein doctors at Advanced Medical Group will examine your medical record and study your symptoms to perform the required tests for diagnosing PAD in diabetes.

1. Ankle-brachial Index

ABI, or ankle-brachial index, is the most common test for diagnosing peripheral arterial disease. In this test, the blood pressure in your ankles is compared with the blood pressure in your arms with the help of a Doppler probe or a cuff.

Some healthcare providers may ask you to use a treadmill or perform a set of exercises. After that, the blood pressure will be compared, which will show before and after exercise results. If you are suffering from peripheral arterial disease, the blood pressure in your ankles will be lower than the blood pressure in your arms.

2. Blood Tests

Some vein clinic centers also conduct blood tests for diagnosing peripheral arterial disease. These blood test results are used to examine your cholesterol levels, diabetes, high triglycerides, and other aspects that are associated with peripheral artery disease.

3. Angiography

Angiography is a magnetic resonance imaging scan, X-ray, or CT scan that is conducted to know if there are any artery blockages. Prior to the scan, you will be injected with a dye into a blood vessel so that the arteries and blockages can be seen clearly.

Summary: Diabetes, Leg Pain, And PAD

People suffering from diabetes and leg pain have a high chance of peripheral arterial disease because leg pain and diabetes are common symptoms of PAD. Early diagnosis of peripheral artery disease helps in treating your PAD quickly and avoiding severe health conditions. It is best to consult a professional vein doctor for diagnosing PAD in diabetes and get the proper treatment.

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Fatima Shaik MD


Fatima Shaik is a board certified internist and cardiologist. She specializes in general cardiology and heart rhythm disorders. She cares for patients at Advanced Medical Group in Jersey City and North Bergen. She also performs procedures at Jersey City Medical Center.

She completed her undergraduate education at NYU and received her MD degree for SUNY Downstate Medical Center. She completed her residency training at Mount Sinai Beth Israel Medical Center and her cardiology fellowship at New York Presbyterian Queens. She went on for advanced training in electrophysiology at Cooper Hospital in Camden, NJ.
She is trained in device implantation, SVT and atrial fibrillation ablations as well as watchman implantations.
She is fluent in English and Hindi.
She is currently accepting new patients.

Reema Parikh, DPT

Physical Therapist

Reema Parikh received two bachelor’s degrees from Long Island University and Touro College, and graduated as a Doctor of Physical Therapy from Touro College in 2013. In her early years as a DPT, she received an award for excellence in research and taught a course for the national physical therapy licensing board exam. Dr. Parikh has a passion for helping patients on their health journey; she is experienced in all ages and care of patients, ranging from pediatric care to geriatric care. She has hosted live and virtual workouts for varying levels of physical activity, incorporating mobility and strength segments. Dr. Parikh has furthered her education by receiving certifications in many aspects of physical therapy and holistic care including Nutritional PT, Restorative Yoga, Pilates, and Reiki.

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Aishwarya Parab, PT

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Dr. Prajakta Avhad is double board-certified in Pain Management and Anesthesiology. Dr. Avhad received her M.B.B.S. from MIMER, India, and completed her Surgical internship and Anesthesia residency at Brookdale University Hospital in Brooklyn, New York during which she interned at Memorial Sloan Kettering, St. Luke’s Roosevelt, and Staten Island Hospital.

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Dr. Avhad and her family reside in New Jersey. She is an avid gardener active with her kids, dog, and garden if not tending to her broad and exotic orchid collection.

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Radhika Patel, PA-C

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About Patel
Graduating summa cum laude from Rutgers University with a BA in Biological Sciences and minor in Spanish, Radhika Patel obtained experiences in outpatient medicine as well as in emergency medical services prior to pursuing a career as a physician assistant. She graduated from the Rutgers University Physician Assistant program with a Master of Science after training in cardiology, internal medicine, and urgent care, among many other fields at various hospitals and private practices throughout the state of New Jersey. She is a proud member of the team at Advanced Garden State Cardiology and looks forward to meeting with patients each day in our Jersey City office.

Enrique D Chappilliquen Lucio, PA-C

Enrique Chappilliquen, PA-C

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About Dr. Chappilliquen
Graduated from Mercy College Physician Assistant Program with a Masters of Science in Physician Assistant Studies, Enrique has extensive experience in the medical field for more than 6 years.

He has clinical experience and training in internal medicine, cardiology, general and vascular surgery, hematology, oncology, and emergency medicine. He joined Dr. Richard’s practice in October of 2016. Since then, he has been a dedicated medical provider working in the Union City office and the Hematology/Oncology office in Jersey City as well.

As a Hispanic, he proudly serves his community with passion and devotion. Being able to communicate fluently with his patients allows him the opportunity to provide excellent medical care to the Hispanic community in Union City and Jersey City. Also, sharing the same language, culture, and values as his patients allows him to connect at a personal level with his patients. Enrique continues to develop his knowledge and skills constantly to continue satisfying the needs of his patients.

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Dr. Samaniego provides comprehensive foot and ankle care at Advanced Medical Group in Jersey City, Union City, and West New York. His specialized surgical training includes

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Samaniego is a member of the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons and the American Podiatric Medical Association. He keeps up to date on the latest surgical techniques and available technology in foot and ankle care.

Prior to joining Advanced Medical Group, Samaniego studied public healthcare in Zambia and assisted in providing care to the local community. He has also presented research at the annual meeting of the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons. Samaniego achieved the highest rank of Eagle Scout through the Boy Scouts of America and volunteered with Troop 454 for scouts with special needs and the Freehold Public Library. In his free time, Samaniego volunteers with his local church community service and youth programs.

Samaniego resides in Jersey City, NJ and maintains his health by cycling and interval training several times a week. He explains, “Healthy doctors inspire healthy patients. I follow the same advice I give my patients, and I read constantly to become a better physician every day. I encourage my patients to ask questions and learn about the cause of their symptoms. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

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Merwin Richard, MD

Cardiologist located in Jersey City, NJ & Union City, NJ

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Richard began his undergraduate education in medicine at Stanley Medical College in India. He earned his doctor of medicine degree from Tamil Nadu Dr. M.G.R. Medical University before relocating to New York City.

After completing both his internship and internal medicine residency through the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Dr. Richard went through advanced fellowship training. He completed a cardiovascular fellowship at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, then went on to finish a second fellowship in interventional cardiology through Mount Sinai School of Medicine (now Icahn).


Throughout his career, Richard has stayed involved in numerous research projects and previously served as a professor at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (now Rutgers University). Richard went on to become the director of the first cardiac catheterization and interventional laboratory in Jersey City and has extensive training in vein treatments.

To ensure he continues staying up to date with the latest research and techniques, Richard maintains his board memberships. He’s board certified through the American Board of Internal Medicine in cardiovascular disease and interventional cardiology.

Being fluent in English,  Spanish, and Tamil gives Richard the opportunity to communicate with patients from diverse cultural backgrounds. Richard is currently accepting new patients.