Blockage of the circulation in the legs is a common sign of atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries. Approximately 5 percent of the population over the age of 65 has detectable arterial blockage in the legs. Poor circulation of the legs also can be the result of less common causes including aneurysms, the compression of arteries and dissections or internal tears extending along the length of the artery.
The symptoms of arterial blockage vary by individual, with some people experiencing no symptoms at all, while others may have:
To diagnose a blocked artery in your leg, your doctor will ask about your medical history, perform a physical examination and order a number of safe and painless non-invasive tests. These tests will check your circulation and may include measurement of blood pressure in the legs and ultrasound imaging of the arteries.
If your doctor confirms that you have an arterial blockage in your leg, treatment will be based on the degree of blockage and the symptoms present. Treatment may include the following:
Reviewed by health care specialists at UCSF Medical Center.