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Exercise Therapy for Peripheral Artery Disease

Peripheral Artery Disease is an ailment that affects millions of Americans today. The disease involves the narrowing of arteries that lead to the legs, stomach, arms and the head. It is most commonly noted alongside pain of the legs, especially upon physical activity and bodily movements, even everyday activities such as simply walking. Similarly to coronary artery disease, peripheral artery disease is caused by atherosclerosis.

Patients with peripheral artery disease most often experience:

  • Pain in the legs and/or hips
  • Cramping of the legs and/or hips
  • Tiredness in the legs and/or hips

These symptoms commonly fade upon periods of rest and return upon periods of physical motion. Peripheral artery disease is a serious condition that, if left untreated, could lead to amputation of the leg(s). Additionally, patients diagnosed with peripheral artery disease have increased risks for developing coronary artery disease, heart attack or stroke. Peripheral artery disease, however, can be easily controlled through lifestyle changes, medication and even services performed by a physical therapist.

One of the commonly used forms of treatment for peripheral artery disease is through exercise therapy as performed by a physical therapist. Therapy includes different sessions of the patient walking on a treadmill until the level of pain experienced by the patient is high. The patient is then instructed to rest until the pain decreases slightly. The patient repeats the process for about 30 minutes. After multiple sessions and visits, the time spent walking on the treadmill until high pain is reached should increase greatly, prompting the physical therapist to increase the speed of the treadmill for the following session. It has been found that more sessions on the treadmill per week have a better effect on the management of the pain caused by the disease. Essentially, controlled and supervised physical activity has been shown to ease the pains associated with peripheral artery disease.

At Island Sports Physical Therapy, we perform a variety of services ranging from sports injuries to geriatric rehabilitation. One of our exercise treatment plans is for patients suffering from pain, cramping or tiredness as a result of living with peripheral artery disease. Licensed physical therapists at one of our six Long Island locations (Huntington, Glen Cove, East Meadow, East Northport, Coram and Nesconset) have the knowledge, skills and tools necessary to aid those living with peripheral artery disease. For more information and to schedule an appointment, visit our website at www.islandsportspt.com.

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