Peripheral artery disease (PAD) is a common condition in which narrowed arteries reduce blood flow to the arms or legs. It can cause leg pain, numbness, cramping, coldness, sores, and other symptoms. It is usually a sign of a buildup of fatty deposits in the arteries (atherosclerosis). Treatment includes exercise, diet, smoking cessation, and medications.
What is Peripheral Artery Disease?
Peripheral artery disease, or PAD, is an accumulation of plaque (fats and cholesterol) in the arteries in your legs or arms. This makes it harder for your blood to carry oxygen and nutrients to the tissues in those areas. PAD is a long-term disease, but you can improve it by exercising, eating less fat, and giving up tobacco products.
Symptoms of Peripheral Artery Disease
Many people with peripheral artery disease have mild or no symptoms. Some people have leg pain when walking (claudication). Claudication symptoms include muscle pain or cramping in the legs or arms that begins during exercise and ends with rest. The pain is most commonly felt in the calf. The pain ranges from mild to severe. Severe leg pain may make it hard to walk or do other types of physical activity.
Other peripheral artery disease symptoms may include:
- Coldness in the lower leg or foot, especially when compared with the other side
- Leg numbness or weakness
- No pulse or a weak pulse in the legs or feet
- Painful cramping in one or both of the hips, thighs, or calf muscles after certain activities, such as walking or climbing stairs
- Shiny skin on the legs
- Skin color changes on the legs
- Slower growth of the toenails
- Sores on the toes, feet, or legs that won’t heal
- Pain when using the arms, such as aching and cramping when knitting, writing, or doing other manual tasks
- Erectile dysfunction
- Hair loss or slower hair growth on the legs
If peripheral artery disease worsens, it can lead to pain during rest or while lying down, often disrupting sleep. Some individuals find relief by hanging their legs over the edge of the bed or taking short walks. For additional insights on enhancing sleep comfort for those with peripheral artery disease, explore our dedicated guide on the Best Sleeping Positions for Peripheral Artery Disease Patients. Discovering optimal sleep postures can significantly improve overall comfort and quality of sleep
Is Peripheral Artery Disease a Disability?
To qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits, you must:
- Have worked in jobs covered by Social Security
- Have a medical condition that meets Social Security’s strict definition of disability
In general, the Social Security Administration pays monthly benefits to people who are unable to work for a year or more because of a disability. The definition of disability under Social Security is different than other programs. They pay only for total disability. No benefits are payable for partial disability or for short-term disability.
They consider you to have a qualifying disability under their rules if all the following are true:
- You cannot do work and engage in substantial gainful activity (SGA) because of your medical condition
So, is Peripheral Artery Disease considered a disability? It depends on the severity of the condition and its impact on your ability to work. If your PAD symptoms are severe enough to prevent you from working or performing substantial gainful activity, you may be eligible for disability benefits. However, each case is evaluated individually, taking into account the person’s medical condition, work history, age, and other factors.
Frequently Asked Questions:
- What is peripheral arterial disease (PAD)?
Peripheral artery disease, or PAD, is an accumulation of plaque (fats and cholesterol) in the arteries in your legs or arms. This makes it harder for your blood to carry oxygen and nutrients to the tissues in those areas.
2. What are the symptoms of PAD?
Symptoms of PAD include muscle pain or cramping in the legs or arms that begins during exercise and ends with rest, coldness in the lower leg or foot, leg numbness or weakness, no pulse or a weak pulse in the legs or feet, and more.
3. Does having PAD increase my risk of having a heart attack or stroke?
Yes, PAD can increase your risk of having a heart attack or stroke.
4. What causes PAD?
PAD is often caused by a buildup of fatty, cholesterol-containing deposits (plaques) on artery walls.
5. How is PAD diagnosed?
PAD is diagnosed through a physical examination, review of your medical and family history, and diagnostic tests.
6. How is PAD followed and how often?
Your healthcare provider will determine how often you should be followed for PAD based on your symptoms and risk factors.
7. What is the treatment for PAD?
Treatment for PAD includes lifestyle changes such as exercising, eating a healthy diet, and not smoking or using tobacco. Medications and procedures to improve blood flow may also be recommended.
The Bottom Line:
Peripheral Artery Disease is a serious condition that can significantly impact a person’s quality of life. If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with PAD, it’s important to understand the disease and its potential implications fully. While PAD can be debilitating, treatment options are available that can help manage symptoms and improve quality of life. If your PAD is severe and prevents you from working, you may be eligible for disability benefits. Always consult with a healthcare professional for advice tailored to your specific circumstances.