Does emphysema cause leg pain?

A fellow caregiver asked...

Can emphysema cause leg pain? I was diagnosed with severe emphysema almost 2 years ago. I am 57 and now I am having different symptoms with extreme weakness and burning pains in my leg muscles. I am having a hard time walking for to long. In fact, fifty feet usually exhausts me. I take care of my ailing mother and I go to the hospital two times daily. I feel like I am going to collapse from the parking lot to the front of the hospital and then it's about another half mile to her room. I don't know how long I can keep up with ordinary daily life.

My question is: Besides getting so out of breath, is this weakness and leg pain caused by emphysema?

Expert Answer

Jennifer Serafin, N.P. is a registered nurse and geriatric nurse practitioner at the Jewish Homes for the Aged in San Francisco.

You need to get checked out immediately.  You should call your doctor ASAP to schedule an appointment, as several things in your letter concern me.  You are only 57, but ...

  1. You are out of breath after walking 50 feet. 
  2. Your legs burn when you walk.
  3. You are exhausted.
  4. You are under too much stress.

I am frankly worried that something is going on with your heart.  While it is normal for people with emphysema to be short of breath sometimes with exertion, your disease seems to be out of control.  The other symptoms you have, like leg burning, can be signs of vascular disease.  I am also concerned that you are tired all the time.

Please follow up with your doctor as soon as you can.  Good luck!