Relief for Painful Legs
Robert Johnson has a high pain threshold. He’s been walking around for about 20 years with a fully blocked artery in his left leg.
“In my late 50s I started noticing it would feel like there was a charley horse in my leg,” said Johnson. “I didn’t think anything of it but did mention it to my family doctor who sent me to a cardiologist. Eventually I was diagnosed with PAD.”
PAD or Peripheral Artery Disease is a narrowing of the peripheral arteries in the legs. The blood flow from the heart to the legs is slowed due to narrowing or in Johnson’s case a blockage in the peripheral arteries. It’s caused by build-up of plaque called atherosclerosis. According to the Centers for Disease Control approximately 8.5 million people in the U.S. have PAD, including 12 to 20 percent of individuals older than age 60.
“He was told he would need to have surgery to correct the issue,” said Dr. Georges Hajj, UnityPoint Health – St. Luke’s Cardiology.
“He previously had undergone two unsuccessful catheter procedures to open the blockage and I offered to try to open his blocked artery one more time before he pursued surgery.”
Late last year Johnson underwent a retrograde catheterization, which means Dr. Hajj accessed the blocked vessel from the ankle, which goes against the blood flow. At the same time Dr. Hajj also accessed the blood vessel from the artery in the groin. Previous attempts accessed the blockage through the groin only, but it was this technique – accessing the blockage from both directions - that was ultimately successful in clearing Johnson’s blocked peripheral artery.
“I am pleased we were able to help Bob,” said Dr. Hajj. “PAD is under-diagnosed. There are many individuals who likely have PAD and we can help improve their quality of life. The leg cramping and pain he was experiencing was the result of the significantly reduced blood flow to his legs. If someone has leg fatigue, weakness, pain or leg cramps – don’t blame age and think it’s normal. Ask your family provider about it or contact our office, it’s very simple to diagnose.”
“My quality of life is 100 percent better,” said Johnson. “I no longer have to take frequent breaks when I am walking and have no leg pain. I’ve been dealing with this for so long it’s great to finally have some relief.”
If you’d like to see a specialist to investigate whether you have PAD, call (319) 364-7101