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Symptoms and Causes of Leg Pain & Vascular Disease

Finding the underlying cause can be a lifesaver.

Call us at (804) 828- 2600 to discuss your options.

See Peripheral Arterial Disease Videos

When you visit or are referred to VCU Health at Baird Vascular Institute complaining of leg pain, we take a very close look at what’s behind it. Leg pain can be one of the first and most common symptoms of peripheral vascular disease, a variety of conditions and diseases that affect the arteries of the body, usually in the heart, brain and especially the legs, that can have life-threatening consequences. So leg pain is our signal to check out your overall vascular health.

We have a wide range of treatments to deal with the cause of the pain — and if we find arterial conditions that may be affecting your heart or brain, we work closely with our colleagues at VCU Health for immediate intervention.

What are peripheral vascular diseases?

Often, leg pain is a major symptom of a hardening of the arteries — atherosclerosis — caused by a buildup of fatty deposits called plaque. This buildup narrows the passageway of the artery and constricts blood flow, making it more difficult for blood to reach and nourish the tissues in the extremities or throughout of the body, or forming blood clots that can break loose. Without treatment, this condition can cause a heart attack or stroke.

How is peripheral vascular disease diagnosed?

Diagnosis is made on the basis of your medical history and symptoms, starting with the pain and its location. If we suspect peripheral vascular disease is involved, we call on additional tests, such as Doppler ultrasound imaging or angiography, injecting dye to make your arteries visible on x-rays. If we see localized symptoms of atherosclerosis, our experts can develop a custom treatment plan for you. We have the latest in technology, techniques and medications to treat vascular disease, ease your pain and help you get back into good health.

What are the risk factors for peripheral vascular disease and atherosclerosis?

Atherosclerosis affects many people, particularly males. It can start as early as the age of 20 and increases as you age. The exact causes are unknown, but several risk factors can accelerate the formation of fatty deposits in the arteries:

  • Smoking
  • Family history of vascular disease, angina, heart attacks or stroke
  • Overweight
  • Unhealthy diet
  • Lack of exercise
  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol levels
  • Stress

Many of these risk factors can be addressed by changes in lifestyle and regular medical care, reducing your risk of future painful problems and possibly slowing the plaque buildup and narrowing of your veins.

Call us at (804) 828- 2600 to discuss your options.