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If you have leg pain, it’s easy to attribute it to muscle strain or overuse injuries. But some types of leg pain are caused by problems with your blood vessels, and without treatment, they can become very serious.
Here at Middle Georgia Vascular Surgery Center, Allison Burkett, MD, FACS, works with patients on an individual basis to identify the cause of their leg pain, including vascular problems associated with chronic aching, nighttime cramps, and other painful symptoms. If you have leg pain, here’s what Dr. Burkett wants you to know about its causes and its treatments.
Like every other part of your body, your legs depend on a steady supply of oxygen- and nutrient-rich blood to keep them healthy. But if circulation in your legs is compromised, you can wind up with chronic aching pain, searing cramps, swelling, varicose veins, and changes in your skin.
Two of the most common vascular causes of leg pain are chronic venous insufficiency (CVI) and peripheral artery disease (PAD). CVI may affect as many as 20% of Americans, while nearly 9 million Americans suffer from PAD. Both problems become more common as we age.
Tiny valves inside your blood vessels keep your blood moving in the right direction — from your feet and lower legs back to your heart. When those tiny valves are damaged (by disease, age, or other causes), blood flow backs up, and the circulation in your legs is compromised
PAD happens when arteries inside your legs are blocked by sticky cholesterol deposits called plaques. Plaque deposits narrow the arteries, making it hard (or even impossible) for blood to circulate. PAD pain is usually worse during exercise, when arteries aren’t able to deliver enough oxygen to your muscles.
If not detected and managed early, both CVI and PAD can lead to serious medical problems.
Dr. Burkett tailors vascular treatments based on each patient’s unique needs, lifestyle, health history, and other factors. While leg pain caused by varicose veins or spider veins can often be treated with sclerotherapy, there are also several other approaches.
VenaSeal uses a very thin tube called a catheter to deliver a special medical adhesive directly to a damaged vein. As Dr. Burkett slowly withdraws the catheter, she applies gentle pressure over the vein. The adhesive closes the vein, allowing blood to be rerouted to healthy veins nearby.
VenaSeal is an outpatient procedure, and there’s no downtime afterward.
ClosureFast uses radiofrequency energy to gently heat a damaged vein, causing the vein to close, so the blood is automatically rerouted through a healthy vein in the area. The heat is delivered through a long, thin catheter directly to the vessel walls. As the catheter is withdrawn, the vein collapses, preventing blood flow.
Like VenaSeal, this procedure is performed on an outpatient basis with no downtime.
Angioplasty and stenting may be used when leg pain is caused by PAD. Angioplasty uses a tiny medical balloon to widen an artery that’s partially blocked. The balloon compresses plaque deposits to improve blood flow through the artery, then a tiny stent is inserted to help hold the artery open.
In addition to these medical treatments, Dr. Burkett helps patients manage diabetes, high blood pressure, and other underlying issues that can contribute to blood vessel issues. She also advises lifestyle changes, like smoking cessation, increased exercise, healthy eating, and weight loss, when indicated, to keep your blood vessels healthy.
Vascular leg pain isn’t just annoying and uncomfortable. It’s a sign that something’s wrong with your circulation, and without treatment, you could wind up with a serious — even life-threatening — condition.
Dr. Burkett uses state-of-the-art technology to diagnose the cause of leg pain, so you can get the best treatment for your health. To learn more about leg pain treatment at our practice in Warner Robins, Georgia, book an appointment online or over the phone today.