Peripheral artery disease (PAD) occurs when the arteries that lead to your legs and feet build up with plaque, causing a partial blockage of blood flow. The plaque is a result of substances in the blood like fat, cholesterol, calcium, fibrous tissue, and more. When the plaque buildup occurs, the arteries are narrowed, limiting the supply of blood to your legs. The reduced flow of blood causes pain and numbness in the legs, and in serious cases, can result in infection or gangrene.
Symptoms of PAD range from mild pain or numbness to severe pain. The calf is a common place for the pain to occur, but the location of the pain can be anywhere in the leg depending on where the narrowed artery is located. Some symptoms include:
Reducing the effects and stopping the progress of PAD requires lifestyle changes such as:
In some cases, treatment of PAD requires surgery. The exact nature of the surgery will depend on the artery that is affected, but will involve a bypass that redirects your bloodstream.