If you take a walk and have an ache in your calf, you might not think anything is out of the ordinary, especially if you don’t walk regularly. It’s possible that your leg just hurts because you’re not used to walking.
It’s also possible that your leg hurts for other, more serious reasons, especially if you’ve noticed swelling too. At Maryland Cardiology Associates in Greenbelt, Maryland, our expert providers often see patients who experience leg pain and swelling.
These symptoms could be an indication of another health condition, such as peripheral artery disease, peripheral vascular disease, or even restless leg syndrome.
“Leg pain” is a pretty broad description. If you’ve taken up running recently, you may have leg pain due to muscle soreness. If you’ve bumped into something and have a bruise on your leg, it probably hurts. But both of those sources of leg pain have clear explanations.
It’s leg pain that seems to happen for no discernable reason that’s of more concern. You may have constant or sporadic pain, or your leg might only hurt when you do specific things, like walking or resting. You might have pain in your calf or your thigh.
All of these different kinds of pain are reasons to be concerned and seek a medical evaluation. That’s because many different conditions can cause pain in your legs and some of them are very serious.
If your leg, ankle, or foot swells regularly, you should also seek an evaluation, even if the swelling isn’t accompanied by pain. You might think your swollen feet are just a normal part of aging, but fluid buildup isn’t always normal and should be checked out by a medical professional.
Common causes of leg pain and swelling
Although the causes of leg pain and swelling vary, some of the most common include:
Peripheral artery disease (PAD)
PAD is a very common condition that doesn’t always cause symptoms, or your symptoms may develop so slowly that you don’t notice them. When you have PAD, plaque builds up in the arteries in your leg, causing them to become narrower and stiffer, and making it more difficult for oxygen-rich blood to reach your lower extremities.
The most common symptom of PAD is claudication — an ache in your calf when you walk or climb stairs. In more advanced cases of PAD, you have pain when you lay down that eases when you hang your legs over the bed or get up and walk around.
Peripheral vascular disease (PVD)
PVD is similar to PAD. With PVD, the blood vessels in your leg narrow, or sometimes spasm, which prevents your blood from flowing properly. PVD is associated with blood clots and other serious problems.
When you have PVD, you may notice painful cramping in your legs, numbness or weakness in your legs, your feet may be cold, or you may even notice a difference in the color of the skin on your lower leg.
Both PAD and PVD are serious circulatory issues. When your blood can’t flow to your lower legs or feet, you may be at risk of tissue death and eventual amputation from even small wounds or issues like ingrown toenails.
Additionally, if your circulatory system in your lower extremities isn’t working properly, there’s a good chance you have other problems too. When you have leg pain and swelling, you likely need to be evaluated for heart disease.
Good treatments exist for the issues that cause leg pain and swelling, so don’t wait to get checked out. Schedule your appointment at Maryland Cardiology Associates today and find out what’s causing your symptoms. Call our office or book a visit online.