While most leg pain is musculoskeletal or nerve-related, some leg pain can be a sign of heart disease, which is a serious medical concern, states Duke Medicine. Claudication is leg pain that starts during high activity levels and stops during rest, and this type of leg pain can be a sign of peripheral arterial disease.
Described as a leg cramp during exercise, claudication occurs every time an individual makes a certain leg movement or performs a certain exercise, according to Duke Medicine. This is because vessels transporting blood to the limbs are partially or completely blocked by fatty deposits. Atherosclerosis is also a cause of leg pain due to the hardening of blood vessels. People with peripheral arterial disease are at risk of lethal heart attacks or strokes, and some cases may lead to limb loss.
Risk factors for PAD include obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, smoking and diabetes, notes Duke Medicine. People who have these risk factors should take recurring leg pain seriously because, if caught early, PAD can be successfully treated, or the progression of the disease can slow with treatment. Typically recommended therapies for treating PAD include quitting smoking, incorporating an exercise routine and medication.