A painful muscle cramping in the hips, thighs or calves when walking, climbing stairs or exercising, sometimes means the most common symptom of peripheral artery disease (PAD) in the lower extremities.
The pain of PAD often goes away when you stop exercising, although this may take a few minutes. Working muscles need more blood flow. Resting muscles can get by with less. If there's a blood-flow blockage due to plaque buildup, the muscles won't get enough blood during exercise to meet the needs. The "crampy" pain, when caused by PAD, is the muscles' way of warning the body that it isn't receiving enough blood during exercise to meet the increased demand.
Many people with PAD have no symptoms or mistake their symptoms for something else. Other symptoms of PAD include:
Leg pain that does not go away when you stop exercising
Foot or toe wounds that won't heal or heal very slowly
Gangrene, or dead tissue
A marked decrease in the temperature of your lower leg or foot particularly compared to the other leg or to the rest of your body
Poor nail growth on the toes or hair growth on the legs
Erectile dysfunction, especially in men with diabetes