CMC program offers relief for pain tied to poor blood circulation in the legs


Conway Medical Center’s Supervised Exercise Therapy (SET) program was recently approved for coverage my Medicare.  SET is a program for people diagnosed with Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD) and who have claudication pain.  This type of pain typically occurs while walking because of blockages in the peripheral arteries in the legs causing poor circulation. Symptoms include an aching, cramping, tired, and sometimes burning sensation in the legs, thighs and buttocks that comes and goes.

Exercise is a good way to prevent claudication from occurring in the first place, and it helps to manage the pain it causes.  Supervised exercise therapy targets the muscles that hurt when you walk, such as the calf or thigh.  The SET program helps improve circulation and available metabolites that can reduce or get rid of pain while walking.  It pairs moderate intensity exercise with lifestyle changes under the supervision and training of a multi-disciplinary team consisting of registered nurses, exercise physiologists, dietitians and stress management counselors.

Within a tailored SET program, the patient can expect the following objectives to be met:
•Gain a better understanding of the disease process
•Increase the distance they can walk
•Reduce their risk of a cardiovascular event
•Improve their overall level of physical fitness
•Enhance their quality of life

Walking is the primary exercise of the SET program and by increasing speed and grade over time the patient can anticipate an increase in peripheral circulation and endurance.  Learning about lifestyle modifications in order to reduce risk factors for PAD and other disease processes is also part of the program.  “We provide a lot of education,” said Marcia Hearl, director of Cardiac Rehabilitation at CMC.  “We want to help those suffering from diabetes get their blood sugar under control and teach them how to watch their diet and control their blood pressure.  For smokers we encourage smoking cessation counseling because we feel that is a vital aspect of ultimately reducing the pain these patients feel.”

The Supervised Exercise Therapy program is offered through the Cardiac Rehabilitation Department located at Conway Medical Center. Those who wish to participate in the SET program should request a physician referral from their primary care provider.  SET is covered by Medicare and most insurers for 36 visits. However, those wishing to continue to exercise beyond the visits covered by their insurer can enroll in a self-pay program.   For more information about the SET program please call 843-347-8153.