Leg pain when you walk? Don ’t ignore it

Walking is often touted as a perfect exercise to improve multiple aspects of health. But what if walking causes leg pain? Many people shrug off leg pain when they walk as a normal part of aging. In some cases, though, it’s the sign of peripheral artery disease (PAD), which can put heart and brain health at risk. While PAD doesn’t usually run in families, it’s more likely to occur as people age, or among people who smoke or have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or diabetes. What causes leg pain if you have PAD? People with PAD have fatty deposits in arteries outside the heart — most often in their legs. Pain occurs because these deposits block blood flow to the muscles, impairing their ability to work properly. Doctors used to think PAD mostly affected men. But when researchers began to include more women in their studies, they learned that the condition is just as common in women, affecting one in every 10 women over age 50 and one in every five over 60, says Dr. Aruna Pradhan, a cardiologist and assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. Pay attention to the pattern of leg pain The cramping and pain in the calves, thighs, hips, or buttocks that people with PAD experience during movement is called intermittent claudication. It’s different from exercise-related soreness, because it occurs only during movement and stops after short periods of rest, says Dr. Pradhan. Muscle soreness caused by exercise lasts for hours or days af...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Tags: Exercise and Fitness Healthy Aging Heart Health Hypertension and Stroke Pain Management Source Type: blogs

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