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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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