Common Stages in the Development of PAD:

Stage 1: Artery narrowing

The arteries begin getting more narrow but with no other symptoms.

PAD develops gradually and can remain unnoticed for long periods.

In many cases, it only causes symptoms in the elderly.

However, the rate at which the disease develops can vary significantly depending on the individual.

Stage 2: Claudication

Most people with PAD will not experience any symptoms but for those who do, this is normally the first.

Also called “intermittent claudication”, it is fatigue, discomfort or pain in the muscles of the legs.

It will normally occur when walking.
Specifically, the pain often occurs in the calves, upper legs, buttocks or feet.
The pain is a signal that the muscles are suffering from lack of oxygen.
Walking puts them under increased strain, so that more oxygen and more efficient blood circulation is required.
However, this is not possible due to reduced blood flow in the narrowed arteries.

Stage 3: Advanced PAD: Pain at rest

Failure to stop the progression of PAD leads to the increasing deterioration of the blood circulation.
In addition to pain when walking, you may experience pain even at rest, particularly at night if your legs are raised.
 
Stage 4: Tissue damage

Without proper blood flow, wounds cannot heal. Even a small cut will have difficulty healing. 

This could lead to infections and permanent tissue damage.
In the worst cases, amputation may even be necessary if adequate blood flow cannot be restored. Please note however that amputation occurs in only a very small minority of patients.

* * *

<< the beginning of the section