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Signs and Symptoms

Intermittent Claudication (IC)

You may not feel any symptoms from peripheral artery disease at first. The most common symptom is leg pain when walking, known as intermittent claudication (IC).

IC Characteristics

Intermittent claudication is characterized by:

  • Muscle pain, heaviness, tightness or cramping in your legs brought on by walking and relieved by stopping.
  • Most people find that the symptoms typically occur at a certain distance after they start to walk.
  • The location of the pain or discomfort depends on the location of the clogged or narrowed artery.
  • Calf pain is very common.
  • When IC is severe, walking may be difficult even at short distances.
  • If peripheral artery disease progresses, pain may even occur when you are at rest (rest pain) and may be intense enough to disrupt sleep.
  • Typically rest pain occurs in the feet, especially the toes.
  • You may find that you need to dangle your feet down to relieve the pain.

Other Signs and Symptoms

Other signs and symptoms of peripheral artery disease include:

  • Leg numbness or weakness
  • Coldness in your lower leg or foot, with one leg or foot colder than the other
  • Sores on your toes, feet or legs that won't heal
  • A pale or blue color to your legs
  • Weak or absent pulses in the legs
  • Hair loss on your feet and legs
  • Change in your toenails
  • Erectile dysfunction in men

Contact Information

Cardiovascular Medicine
Division of the CardioVascular Institute
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
330 Brookline Avenue
Boston, MA 02215