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Cramps when walking? doctor reveals when you should worry

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Leg cramps are common during workouts, although they are not dangerous. Cramps when walking, on the other hand, can be a major warning sign of a deadly disease. Find out when you should be alarmed.

Many athletes experience cramps and discomfort in their legs after or during exercise, but if the pain is severe and abrupt, and the condition occurs frequently, these symptoms may indicate the development of peripheral artery disease (PAD).

The most common cause of vascular motility impairment is PAD. Atherosclerosis is the underlying illness in the vast majority of cases, and it can damage all arteries in the limbs.

Peripheral arterial disease is more common in the elderly, affecting roughly 10% of adults in their 60s and 70s. The syndrome arises when blood flow to the lower or sometimes upper extremities is reduced, mainly due to atherosclerosis (narrowing or blockage of the arteries in the leg) (hardening of the arteries).

One of the most concerning elements of the disease is that there are no symptoms in the early stages.

Intermittent claudication, or discomfort in the calves, thighs, or soles when walking, is the most common symptom, and it goes away within a few minutes once you stop. You may have stiffness, heaviness, or weakness in the limb, similar to a cramp. The source of these symptoms is a lack of perspiration in the area, which prevents normal oxygenation as well as nutrient penetration.

As the condition progresses, the intensity of the symptoms increases as well. These are accompanied with numbness and the inability to cure wounds on the foot, both of which are considered quite dangerous.

“Vascular problems tend to escalate rapidly without prompt diagnosis and intervention, particularly in patients who have wounds on the feet that won’t heal,” says Dr. Matthew Cindric, a vascular surgeon with Penn State Health. “The earlier you notice the signs and get evaluated, the sooner we can get you on a path toward healing.”

Talk to your doctor if you see any signs of PAD, Cindric said. Dietary modifications, exercise, drugs, and operations to unblock blocked arteries are all possible treatments.

Smoking, hypertension, high cholesterol, high blood sugar, and diabetes are all risk factors.

In addition to genetic predisposition, daily activities such as adding exercise to our daily routine and improving our food can help to control the following risks.

“Even if you ultimately require a surgical intervention, long-term results are strongly dependent on how well these other factors are managed,” adds the expert.

Image Credit: Getty

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