Painful Legs

I have a diagnosis of atherosclerosis and vitamin D low levels (16). I have a strong family hx of heart disease, my father died at 53, mother with CVA x 4 and my oldest brother had blocked arteries in both legs requiring surgery. Lately I have had extreme pain and acheness when walking (grocery shopping) and going up and down stairs. I have a hard time opening packages, seems like I have no strength in my arms. I have plaques in both carotid arteries, HTN, high cholesterol, asthma. I take multiple medications and have done so since 2008. At night when I try to sleep my legs will throb. Is this related to PAD or could it be from low vitamin D levels. I usually am extremely tired after shopping and fall asleep when I rest my legs. Any input will be appreciated.

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I would strongly encourage you to go see your doctor as soon as possible. If you have a vascular surgeon, that would be my best choice and then your GP. Pain on exertion that is relieved at rest is really classic for PAD and you sure have the history for it - a history very similar to mine. My mom had a heart attack at 45, my dad had multiple strokes beginning at age 50, my brother had a heart attack at 47 and my sister has PAD.

If the pain has escalated, then that is not a good thing. Also, pain at night is definitely not a good sign. I've had all this - I know how painful it is. And dealing with the pain is exhausting - I, too, would fall asleep the second I hit my chair and put my feet up.

Has anyone done a CT scan with contrast or an angiogram or anything for your legs? You obviously had some testing on your cartoids - but what about your tummy area and legs? It could really be a good idea. If there's nothing there - you can rest easy and your docs know how to approach the problem. If they find any blockage - then your docs know how to approach the problem and you know what you're dealing with.

I have enough control issues that knowing what's going on is important to me. I've had 2 aortic bifemoral bypasses this year, the last one in September. I have been pain free since then - except for the last few weeks I've noticed some pain just in one leg on exercise - in different spots than before - but I was sitting in my GP's office right away. I'd rather know what's wrong then wonder (our imagination is always worst than reality). But now I have someone I trust with knowledge I don't have sharing this experience with me.

I hope this has helped. Please let us know what you decide to do, how you feel physically and how you feel inside. That's what we're all here for -- each other.


Sharon

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Thank you very much, Kalonakini. I have strong suspicions it may be PAD. I have been managed by a cardiologist since 2008 but have NOT had an angiogram. I have had many echocardiograms, stress tests (regular and nuclear) and ultrasounds. I have plaques in the lower, middle and upper portions of both the right and carotid arteries. They say they usually don't do surgery on the carotid arteries until the blockage is >70% and symptomatic, but they don't know what the % of blockage is so how do they determine what extent my atherosclerosis truly is. I will admit I am not very aggressive with doctors, I usually take their word as "gospel", even when I express my concern for having a stroke like my mother. That is due to a long history of doctors not believing my symptoms. I take a beta blocker, a calcium channel blocker, an ACE inhibitor and a diuretic for my blood pressure. My cholesterol is always high and I take Prevastatin for that. I also take Advair and use an inhaler for quick breathing relief. Seems as though when you are older (I am 64, soon to be 65 in two months), the doctors hesitate to do aggressive therapy. I have always been a walker....I enjoy walking and playing with my grandchildren a lot. Now I feel like an "80-year old lady" with my legs. I will contact my primary care giver but will also look for a cardiovascular specialist because sometimes "GP's" don't really know the "whole picture" even after I explain and transferred all my records to him. I truly appreciate your input and your support. I will let you know how everything turns out. You are a blessing!

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boy, do I understand how you feel !! I hope when you see your doctor you can ask him to do a few simple tests in his office.. It can be as simple as him taking your pulse in your feet .. feeling your feet are they warm ? I bet my docs would love for me to take their word as gospal . I have learned so much in the last year.. My doc messed around with the pain in my legs for 6 months before I had a fit and refused to leave until he gave me an answer.. Good luck and keep us posted..

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Yes see a cardio vascular doctor asap..I was Diagnosed at 40, stints in both my legs 100/percent blocked, and 90 percent in the aorta behind belly button..my legs are dieing they are still telling me I can lose my legs in a couple years..now They have just found 3 blockages near the heart I am facing triple bypass in a month or so..I am 42.

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sorry also pain at night yes It will not stop i am on night pain meds w no advil or tylenol in it..hydrocodone..advil and tylenol
actually cause the ache and restless leg feeling..now I sleep great..just a thought..good luck to you

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Oh boy, sorry to hear all of your issues. Get to the doctor and have them do an angiogram, that's the only real way to have a clear picture of how the circulation in your legs are doing and they can start mapping your veins for a.possible bypass so u can save your legs. I'm 35, My bypass of 10 yrs just failed, stents helped for an additional year but I scarred thru them I don't have atherosclerosis or hbp or any other issues other than scarring on My leg, and I know the piano can be so difficult to deal with. I'm on Pletal and coumadin and pletal seems to make a.little bit of differencein My waking endurance. Ask about it, and like Sharon once advised me, ask ask ask, and do research , there are many clinical trials goin.g around, they may truly help you!
Good luck!
Yuri

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See what you get here? Is that not a beautiful thing?

I want to add a little - I also was not believed by doctors. For 6 years I was told the pain in my legs was caused by a degenerative disc disease in my lower back. I mentioned it to my GP one time when I was in there for something (we were still new to each other) and he said everybody over 40 has degenerative disc disease (I'm 58).

He had me come back in a couple of days for a test in his office - a test I can never remember the name of - someone here will tell you. But they took the blood pressure in my arm, then in my leg. I remember the nurses not being able to find a pulse in my foot and calling him in. He finally found one and had the nurse blow up the blood pressure cuff on my leg until the pulse in my foot faded to nothing. He asked her what the reading was and she said "70". He looked at her and said, "you mean 170" and she said "no, 70". I had no idea what that meant but I kinda figured I was in trouble. LOL

He sent me for a ct scan with contrast and called me a couple of days later saying "um, I'm really not sure what to do with you or if there's anything that should be done with you". Well, I've heard that a lot in my life, but never concerning a medical issue. He figured the collateral system I had was good enough until I insisted that I was in a lot of pain and needed someone to look at this. He (kinda reluctantly) sent me to a vascular surgeon who walked in at the first visit, slapped the films in the viewer and said "you are a good candidate for a double amputation".

If I could suggest, spend a little time trying to figure out why you believe doctor's statements are gospel. For me it was because I grew up in the military and military doctors were officers and thereby gods. I was shocked when I went to a civilian doctor the first time and had a separate room to change in with a hanger and hook for my clothes and was listened to and even asked if there was anything else! It really wasn't until my mom was in the hospital for a quadruple bypass and had a miserable excuse for a surgeon, that a friend who was a nurse told me "doctors are your employees. they are there for you. and if they don't do what is best for you, you are well within your rights to fire them." Fire a doctor? Omg - that was not a comfortable place for me. But, I loved my mom and wanted good care for her, so I fired him and asked her cardiologist to take over her care. Changed my view of doctors and the medical field forever (which is exactly what that was suppose to do). Of course our doctors have knowledge and training and experience we don't have - that's why we pay them a fortune. But, you are still in the driver's seat. Doctors should explain and explain and explain until you understand; answer all your questions no matter how often you ask the same thing; and treat you like the most important person on this earth.

That doctor who told me I was a good candidate for a double amputation? He always explained everything in detail - over and over again. Answered all my questions - over and over again. Told me about the operation - over and over again. When I was on the ward (see civilian hospitals call it the "floor" - some things become part of you) after ICU and off some of the drugs, I asked him about the operation and he told me all about it. I was looking at him and realized something. "you've told me this before, huh". He laughed and said "almost daily but you don't remember. It's ok. I'll never keep anything from you". "Oh", I said. "It was kinda hard to do with all these little arteries, wasn't it" He said "oh, yeah" and started for the door. I told him "I'm so glad I could brighten your day that day". He stopped, turned his head toward me and said, really low "it was a bi*ch, a total bi*ch". I laughed so hard that the nurse came in to check my stitches.

This is your life, your body, your legs, your pain and you have hired people who are suppose to have the skill, training and knowledge to solve the problems. You have some idea of the sort of testing that can be done to find out why you are having pain: the blood pressure test (geez, someone give this poor woman the right name for it), a CT scan with contrast and angiogram (pretty much in order of ease). Now, I would encourage you to figure out why you can't just walk into that office and say "I'm in a lot of pain. I can no longer take my walks. I no longer can play with my grandkids. Shopping is a painful chore. Gardening is so painful I've stopped doing it. I have pain on exertion that goes away when I stop. I have pain at night when I'm trying to sleep. I think I have PAD. My history really puts me at risk. I would like testing to find out so if I'm right so we can do something about it. I can't live like this. I'm only 64 but I feel like I'm 80. Let's fix this."

It really does work. If it's really hard, take a friend with you to give you moral support and remember the parts you forget because you're nervous. And if it doesn't work - it's time to fire someone and find a doctor who will not only listen to you, but believe you.

Sharon

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Thanks again, all of you, for the advise. Because of your comments I feel "empowered" now to demand what it is I need to help my legs recover. I know these symptoms are not "in my head"....they are real and I need to take care of them. Over the past month two of my sisters-in-law have had strokes, both in the early 50's. I do not want to be a statistic. I definitely will INSIST on the appropriate testing until I get answers. I have had a test in 2008 where they measured the pressures in my wrists and legs. I was told back then that I had artery damage in both the large and small vessels. I will keep you posted as I proceed. Tomorrow I will contact my clinic to obtain the name of a vascular physician. You all are absolutely 110% correct - I do have the right to get the tests necessary to determine what medical treatment I need. Again, I appreciate ALL your comments. You have given me the push to find answers.

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The test kalonakini is referring to is called ABI = ankle-brachial index. They compare your blood pressure in your arms to the blood pressure in your ankles to help determine the amount of blockage to the arteries in your legs. It is a simple test.
I am in total agreement that you need to be a little more agressive. Your cardiologist should be able to help but if it were me I would seek out a vascular doctor.
My vascular doctor is my hero. I had 4 blockages almost 6 years ago. The worst one was my messenteric artery in the abdomen & I lost over 8 feet of my intestines . They say I came within a 1/2 hour of death. If not for this vascular doctor I would not be here. I was 43 when it happened. He says I'm a miracle. I've had several more surgeries since. It's not PAD but it's pretty close I think. It's genetic as my brother has it also. He had a leg amputated at 40.
At 64 you are still young enough that you need this treated right away. Do research on the internet before you go in. Make a list of questions to ask. And don't be afraid to ask anything you think of! And if you're not comfortable with the care you recieve then switch doctors. This is your life & with the right doctor you can get back to playing with your grandbabies, walking & almost anything else. Maybe a little slower but definitely with less pain.
I work in the medical field, I'm a respiratory therapist & I always encourage my patients to ask ask ask. Remember there are no dumb questions! Any doctor should welcome your questions.

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Thanks, Chelle! I will be calling for a referral to a vascular physician today. I, too, feel 64 is still young! I have always been able to keep on going after medical issues have stepped in my way. I pride myself in being "healthy" and that's why the problems with my legs worry me. I know that something is wrong and I know it needs to be addressed. With all the encouragement from people like you, I will not stop until I get answers, whatever they may be. God Bless you all for your support and advice.

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be sure to go on the VDF.org website and look up their recommendations about getting treated - it is extremely helpful and there is a pamphlet you can download or order on PAD. Again, this is for you to be more informed and ask questions, Good luck

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http://www.vdf.org/diseaseinfo/pad/

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I agree with Chelle to see a vascular surgeon. Mine has helped me so much and I am able to walk and enjoy life again.
And don't forget as soon as you get the o'k to walk walk walk. Let us know what you find out. We're all pulling for you!

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@ joyce get to a doctor asap and get dx. remember the frist rule which i learn here is to ask ask questions demand answers. and how ur tests results come out and what they are for have ur doctor explain everything going on with u condition. do not just take his word if on it, if ur doctor do not answer ur concerns fire him , he not a good doctor if he will not do that. remember it ur life. i learn the hard way not doing this. more questions than answers going on in my head.

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Hello to all and God bless each and everyone of you. I am new to this site and this is the first time I have posted anything. I had aorto femeral bypass surgery in July of 2010. By the time they did the surgery, 4 of my toes turned black. It took me a year to fully recover after them having to go back in to get stitches that didn't disolve and being sent home with pseudomonis (sp). And now have permanent nerve damage in both feet. This was the worst surgery I have ever been through and I have had many. I remember waking up wishing I had died on the table. I have started getting the same pain in the hips that I had before the bypass and have had a few tests again. Today I had a CT angiograpy done and to me it looks like the artery inside the graft of the aorta looks like its been pinched. Will have to wait for the doctor to fill me in for certain. Needless to say I cried all the way back home. I am scared to death! I do not trust the vascular surgeon I had before. I am seeking a new one that will have my best interests at heart. One that takes their oath seriously and is not out just to make money like so many drs are these days. I am only 47. I do not want to have to have this surgery again especially if this is going to happen every year and a half. There has to be less invasive options and a vascular surgeon that cares. Does anyone know of any in the Ft Worth, Texas area? Any help would be greatly appreciated!

Carol

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i keep on getting cramping in my foot and cause me to relapse. my calves tighten up like a rock oh course there is pain. was doing so good. going to my PD,tuesday i hope she prescribe something for cramping. was told to drink tonic wated vit d, magensum nothing work. going keep my exercise up hope i get back where i was able to walk in stores and shop fo rmy self.

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