The classic symptom of peripheral artery disease (PAD) is pain in the legs upon exertion, such as walking, which is relieved by rest.
It can also present as an ache, cramp, or burning sensation that occurs intermittently during periods of activity — and therefore is known as intermittent claudication.
As symptoms progress, they may also occur while a person is at rest.
However, some people with PAD don’t experience pain at all. Other symptoms in the legs may include:
• Changes in skin color
• Thinning or loss of hair on the legs
• Numbness in the legs or feet
• Muscle atrophy — a wasting away or loss of muscle
• Smooth, shiny skin that feels cool to the touch
• Weak or absent pulses in the feet
• Non-healing ulcers or sores on the feet, heels or toes
• Cold or numb toes
In men, another symptom of PAD is erectile dysfunction (ED). The penis needs strong blood flow to achieve and maintain an erection, so a man who experiences ED should undergo a physical exam.
ED can be a tip-off to other circulatory conditions, including heart disease, diabetes, and vascular disease.