When you have peripheral arterial disease (PAD), your arteries narrow, reducing the amount of blood flow to your legs and feet. As a result, you may experience painful muscle cramps in your hips, thighs and calves. This pain is typically at its worst when you’re walking, climbing stairs or exercising.
But, while exercising may make you experience painful cramps, research shows that certain exercises will, in fact, help you manage PAD.
According to this study, supervised treadmill workouts are the most effective form of exercise for people with PAD. Study authors suggest: “exercise sessions should progress up to a target goal of accumulating 30 to 45 minutes of treadmill walking per session” and “exercise should be carried out at an intensity that elicits mild claudication pain within 5 minutes, and moderate to moderately severe claudication within 10 minutes followed by rest until claudication pain subsides.” In other words, the goal of this workout is to work to the point of pain until the pain takes longer to show up. In this way, PAD patients can experience longer periods of walking comfort in their real lives as well.
Alternatives to Treadmill Workouts
Of course, for some PAD patients, treadmill walking may be too difficult–or simply unappealing. Not to worry: the study suggests other forms of exercise that can also be effective. The authors suggested walking around your neighborhood as one obvious alternative to treadmill workouts. Seated exercise bikes can also help people with PAD, as can workouts that involve resistance training, with your body weight, bands or weighted dumbbells.
While exercise can help improve your ability to walk comfortably with PAD, it cannot cure the condition. Fortunately, in our Houston vein center, we can easily diagnose and treat your PAD. We star with a bedside test, called an Ankle-Brachial Index (ABI), which uses ultrasound and blood pressure cuffs to evaluate the circulation in your arms and legs. If this test is abnormal we may order further imaging tests such as Magnetic Resonance Angiography (MRA) or Computed Tomography (CT) to determine the extent of your problem and help us plan your treatment.
Once we determine the extent of your issue, treatment can begin. Our doctors will determine the most appropriate, and least invasive, treatment option that will help you find relief. So if you are experience leg cramps and suspect PAD may have set in, schedule an immediate consult to begin finding relief!
Sources: www.interventionjournal.com, Cardiology Today, www.healio.com/cardiac-vascular-intervention