Much like humans, leg pain comes in a variety of shapes and sizes. It can be constant or intermittent, can develop suddenly or gradually. It can affect your entire leg or just one area, such as your shin or your knee. It can be stabbing and sharp or dull and aching. Even tingling leg pain can be quite uncomfortable.
Leg pain most commonly is the result of an injury but it can also be caused by blood clots, varicose veins or even poor circulation. That poor circulation has a name: Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD).
PAD is a common but dangerous medical condition where a buildup of plaque (fatty deposits and cholesterol) makes it difficult for blood to circulate through the arteries, especially in the limbs. PAD most commonly affects the legs.
Why Does PAD Cause Leg Pain?
When you develop PAD, your extremities — usually your legs — don’t receive enough blood flow to keep up with demand. This causes symptoms, most notably leg pain when walking (claudication).
The pain of PAD often goes away when you stop exercising, although it may take a few minutes. Working muscles need more blood flow whereas resting muscles can get by with less.
The “crampy” pain (called “intermittent claudication”), when caused by PAD, is your muscles’ way of alerting your body that it isn’t receiving enough blood during exercise to meet the increased demand.
What Does Minimally Invasive Mean, and Why is it Better?
In some cases, PAD can be treated effectively with lifestyle changes. But more advanced PAD may require medical intervention, including a variety of minimally invasive techniques. So what exactly does minimally invasive mean?
In minimally invasive surgery, doctors use a variety of techniques to operate with less impact to the body than with open surgery. In general, minimally invasive surgery is associated with less pain, a shorter recovery time and fewer complications. LAM Vascular specializes in minimally-invasive treatments for PAD and thus, leg pain.
Procedures to treat PAD and Leg Pain
The first steps in managing PAD are connected with lifestyle. Medications and reducing risk factors, including lowering blood pressure and cholesterol, losing weight and stopping smoking are a good start.
However, in more severe cases, Dr. Lam may recommend peripheral artery bypass surgery or one of the following minimally invasive vascular procedures:
ANGIOPLASTY AND STENTING – Modern angioplasty is a procedure in which a thin, flexible tube called a catheter is inserted through an artery and guided to the place where the artery is narrowed. Once the tube reaches the narrowed artery, a small balloon at the end of the tube inflates for a short time. The pressure from the inflated balloon presses the plaque against the wall of the artery to improve blood flow. In most cases, a small, expandable tube called a stent is put in place at the same time. Reclosure of the artery is less likely to occur if a stent is used.
LASER ATHERECTOMY – Laser atherectomy is a FDA-approved, minimally invasive endovascular technique for removing plaque from blood vessels within the body. The procedure uses a catheter that emits high-energy ultraviolet light to unblock the artery. Dr. Lam maneuvers the catheter through the vessel until it reaches the blockage.
So, What Does it Mean to Treat Leg Pain with Minimally Invasive Techniques?
It means that you or your loved have the opportunity to experience life again without leg pain holding them back. It means that surgery isn’t as scary as it once was, and that oftentimes, you or your loved one could regain painless movement in your legs without significant downtime and quite possibly, no hospital stay at all.
The first step? Scheduling an appointment with Dr. Lam’s team.
Click here or call 214.345.4160 today.
*As with any procedure, results may vary. Please consult your physician for complete analysis.