Winter is far behind, and now we are celebrating longer days, warmer weather and a calendar full of summer activities. Summer grants us a wide range of ways to be more active than other times of the year, and Michigan mainstays like golfing, hiking, and trail riding or walking have a lot of us on our feet more than usual.

As with any new physical activity, your summer hobbies likely lead to new aches and pains. In most cases, this is easily attributed to sore muscles you haven’t used in a while or for an extended period of time. Sometimes, however, that achiness in your legs and feet could be signaling a larger problem.

Check the Symptoms

If you have started noticing aching legs and feet, it’s important to track a few things: when the pain starts, when it dissipates, and how frequently you experience it.

The telltale sign that your pain could be a larger issue, such as Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD), is pain or fatigue that comes on within a few minutes of starting physical activity and will fade with rest.

Normal muscle soreness will tend to begin either toward the end or after exercise, and may linger for multiple days while your muscles heal. Other types of pain, such as tingling/burning or joint-based pain could signal issues caused by diabetes or arthritic conditions.

Risk Factors

Monitoring your aches and pains is important not only because everybody prefers living in comfort, but because your future health could depend on it. PAD impacts the ability of blood to flow properly, inhibiting your body’s ability to deliver oxygen o your working muscles. If left untreated, people with PAD are at higher risk for heart attack, stroke, skin ulcers and gangrene.

Treatment for PAD, especially when caught early, is often just a change in diet, quitting smoking if you do, and following a walking program to improve circulation. If left untreated or undiagnosed, some cases may require surgery to improve blood flow. Most diagnoses can be done with a physical exam, so if you are concerned about the pain in your leg it is best to schedule a screening today – your body will thank you!