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In PAVD, the arteries that carry blood to the arms and legs slowly become narrowed or blocked when plaque gradually forms inside the artery walls. When this happens, blood cannot get through to nourish organs and other tissues, causing damage to the tissues and eventually tissue death.

Symptoms that may be associated with PAD include:

  • Painful cramping in your hip, thigh or calf muscles after certain activities, such as walking or climbing stairs (claudication)
  • Leg numbness or weakness
  • Coldness in your lower leg or foot, especially when compared with the other side
  • Sores on your toes, feet or legs that won’t heal
  • A change in the color of your legs
  • Hair loss or slower hair growth on your feet and legs
  • Slower growth of your toe nails
  • Erectile dysfunction in men

The treatment of choice for PAD at Spectra Health is angioplasty and stent placement. In this procedure, a small hollow tube (catheter) is threaded through a blood vessel to the affected artery. There, a small balloon on the tip of the catheter is inflated to reopen the artery and flatten the blockage into the artery wall, while at the same time stretching the artery open to increase blood flow. A mesh framework (stent) may be inserted in the artery to help keep it open.