Is Your Leg Under Attack? Know From The Specialist

Smart people think on their feet and act. And then we stand tall on our feet all day long, walk and run around to get our chores done. So your legs are not just your wheels in the journey of life, but almost have a heart of their own. And yet our legs are perhaps the most neglected body part.

Often workout and exercise help to keep our strained muscles relaxed, but sudden leg attack is not unheard of either.

Some professions require people to be on their feet 24×7, like those of a chef, traffic police, doctor, nurse, or an event manager. Standing all day can be detrimental to one’s health.

Varicose vein and Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD) are two diseases which can easily attack people whose daily lifestyle puts a lot of stress on their legs. It is essential to get your leg meticulously checked by expert doctors whenever you see any of these symptoms appearing.

Dr. Avik Bhattacharya, Consultant at CMRI Department of Intervention Radiology shares his expert insights on two major leg diseases which are often ignored in the initial stages.

Varicose veins are the veins with damage in the return pump valve and is a commonly occurring condition. 10-15 % of women and men are affected with symptoms of pain and swelling of the lower limbs, enlarged blue veins on the thigh or calf and accompanying problems like leg aching, eczema, lipodermatosclerosis, cellulitis or venous ulcer. Standing for a long period does not cause varicose veins per se, nevertheless hastens the deterioration of malfunctioning valves which aggravates the development of varicose veins.

Symptoms like ache discomfort and heaviness in the legs, swollen ankle, brown spots on skin are common. Change in skin colour should be an initial indicator to visit a specialist immediately. Take good nutritional supplements and maintain a healthy lifestyle that includes regular exercise, andavoiding prolonged standing or wearing high heels. Keeping your legs elevated when resting, and not crossing them when sitting may prevent the advance of varicose veins.

Accurate diagnosis and proper treatment of varicose veins can ensure that most of them do not recur. Surgery for the varicose veins results in minimal standard recurrence rate. For many people to whom the symptoms are unacceptable or unbearable, even if the results of the treatment are not permanent, it is still preferable to no treatment at all, , Graduated elastic compression stockings are good for temporary relief of symptoms and are used below the knee with standard pressure. Foam Sclerotherapy is an injection of a sclerosing solution into veins and mainly used to treat localized varicosities.

Laser or Radiofrequency treatment involves puncture of the vein under ultrasound guidance and burning the vein with the use of Laser/RF. Laser or Radiofrequency procedure normally takes around 30 minutes for one leg and is performed under local anaesthesia. The patient can return home the same day of the procedure and can resume normal activities within 24 hours. The patient might have a little pain during the procedure as there will be 3-4 small needle pricks to introduce anaesthesia and most of the patients tolerate it very well.

Peripheral artery disease (PAD) is often caused by atherosclerosis, where fat deposits (plaques) build up in the arteries and reduce blood flow. In this disease, your legs don’t receive enough blood flow to keep up with demand.

This causes symptoms, most notably leg pain while walking aka claudication. Intermittent claudication means painful cramps in your hip, thigh or calf muscles after activity, such as walking or climbing stairs. The other features of this disease include coldness in your lower leg or foot, especially when compared with the other side; sores or wounds on your toes, feet or legs that heal slowly and a change in the colour of your legs.

The risk factors for developing PAD include smoking, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, family history of vascular disease such as PAD, aneurysm, heart attack or stroke & obesity. If peripheral artery disease progresses, it is painful to walk even short distances and it may even occur when you are at rest or when you are lying down. It may be intense enough to disrupt sleep. Hanging your legs over the edge of your bed may temporarily relieve the pain. Severe PAD can even lead to loss of limb.  A specialist can check for signs of the disease with a simple test of pulses in your feet.

One of the most effective preventive measures of PAD is regular physical activity. You must modify your lifestyle and follow thorough healthy routine in daily life. Eating a nutritious diet can control your blood pressure and cholesterol levels. A diet with low saturated fat, trans fat and cholesterol ensures lower blood cholesterol levels, but cholesterol-lowering medication and anti-platelet medications to help prevent blood clots may also be necessary.

Tobacco smoking increases your risk of PAD as well as your risk for heart attack and stroke, so quit smoking. If surgery is prescribed then angioplasty, a form of minimally invasive surgery that enables access to many regions of the body via major blood vessels is performed.  In this procedure, dilatation of the arterial stenosis is done along with deployment of a metallic stent to provide relief from the symptoms. Surgery is required only when symptoms are severe and the ability to perform basic functions like walking, standing have been hampered.

Reference – India Blooms

Dr. Avik Bhattacharyya
Dr. Avik Bhattacharyya

Department of Intervention Radiology