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You can't buy good health but you can buy good health information. Check out these newly released Special Health Reports from Harvard Medical School:

When walking hurts: What you can do about leg pain

Walking often tops the list of good ways to get exercise. But walking isn’t easy for everyone. A number of conditions can cause leg pain that makes walking difficult. The June 2008 issue of the Harvard Health Letter looks at treatment and management of four of these non-arthritic conditions. Among them:

Peripheral artery disease. This condition, a form of atherosclerosis, typically affects the arteries that supply the leg muscles. This can cause leg cramps, or the legs may feel heavy or tire easily. Researchers have found that structured, supervised exercise programs can help people with peripheral artery disease increase the amount of walking they can do without pain. These programs usually involve walking until it hurts, resting until the pain goes away, and walking again. The regimen is most effective if people follow it for about 30 minutes several days a week. If peripheral artery disease is serious or doesn’t improve with treatment, doctors can reopen a blocked artery in the leg with the same procedures used for coronary artery disease: angioplasty or bypass surgery.

Chronic venous insufficiency. This condition of poor circulation involves the veins and the blood’s return trip to the heart and lungs. Symptoms include swelling, skin inflammation, and open wounds on the ankle. Legs may feel achy or heavy. A mild case can be helped by lying on your back and using a pillow to elevate your legs. If you’re sitting for long periods, pointing your toes up and down several times can help. More severe cases can be treated with compression stockings. Surgical treatments are reserved for the most serious cases.

The Harvard Health Letter article also discusses lumbar spinal stenosis and diabetic neuropathy.

Also in this issue of the Harvard Health Letter

  • When walking makes your legs hurt
  • A good old age
  • Masculinity and men's health
  • Brushing up on brushing
  • By the way, doctor: Should I back off from getting my blood sugar down?
  • References for June 2008 Harvard Health Letter

More Harvard Health News »


About Harvard Health Publications

Harvard Health Publications publishes four monthly newsletters--Harvard Health Letter, Harvard Women's Health Watch, Harvard Men's Health Watch, and Harvard Heart Letter--as well as more than 50 special health reports and books drawing on the expertise of the 8,000 faculty physicians at Harvard Medical School and its world-famous affiliated hospitals.