Peripheral artery disease (also known as peripheral arterial disease or PAD) is a common condition caused by a buildup of plaque in the arteries that carry blood to the limbs. This vascular condition is caused by the restricted flow of blood and oxygen to the lower extremities and other parts of the body.
PAD is often referred to as having poor circulation in the feet or hands. Having this disease can indicate that there is more widespread arterial disease. This can affect the brain and heart. In some cases, it may lead to stroke or a heart attack.
Common Symptoms of PAD
Peripheral artery disease can go unnoticed in the early stages. Once the arteries have been blocked, a range of symptoms can occur. Keep in mind that every person is different and may not experience these exact symptoms. Some common symptoms of PAD are:
- Pain or numbness in the muscles of the legs when laying down or resting
- Pain or cramping when climbing or walking stairs
- Feeling pins and needles sensation in the lower legs or feet
- Sores on the ankles, legs, or feet that are slow to heal or do not heal
- Cold feet or legs when the rest of the body is warm
- A pale or bluish skin color of the feet or calves
- Loss of hair or slow hair growth on the legs and feet
- Change in color and thickness of toenails
If you are a diabetic, your symptoms may be different. It is important to take notice of any wound that is not healing or is slow to heal since this could cause a major complication. Regular foot exams are advised to keep problems with PAD from getting worse. A podiatrist can track changes in your feet and notice any concerns that need attention.
For Those With Diabetes And PAD, There Are Other Foot Complications That Can Occur
Damage to the nerves of the feet can lead to numbness.
Ulcers can develop on the soles of the feet or over bunions and other deformities of the foot and never heal.
Risk Factors Of Peripheral Artery Disease
Since not every person who has PAD will experience symptoms and some may only have mild symptoms, it is important to know who is at risk for the disease. Risk factors for developing PAD include:
- Being a smoker
- Having diabetes
- Having high cholesterol or high blood pressure
- Being over the age of 50
- Having a family history of PAD, heart disease, or stroke
- Living a sedentary lifestyle
General Treatment Options For Peripheral Artery Disease
It is important to consult with your podiatrist at the first sign of PAD. This common condition has no cure and can lead to amputation or even death if left untreated. To diagnose peripheral artery disease, your podiatrist will do a physical exam to check any unhealed wounds and the pulsation in your feet and legs. He may also order imaging tests to check the blood flow of the affected areas and a blood test to check your blood sugar, triglycerides, and cholesterol.
Once diagnosed, there are several common treatment options for peripheral artery disease:
Change in lifestyle.
Changes such as stopping smoking, quitting any tobacco use, exercising more frequently, and eating a healthy diet may improve PAD.
Medicines that improve the flow of blood or control high blood pressure or diabetes can be given to help treat the condition.
A minimally invasive procedure may be done to improve the flow of blood in the legs.
Do You Need the Help of an Experienced and Caring Podiatrist?
If you're experiencing any type of leg or foot pain or have a wound that is not healing, you should speak with an experienced podiatrist as soon as possible. Please contact us online to schedule your appointment or call one of our convenient El Paso offices directly. To reach our Sierra Tower Building podiatrist office, please call 915.533.5151. You can find driving directions here. To reach our George Dieter Drive podiatry office, please call 915.856.3331. Driving directions are available here.