Peripheral Artery Disease

Do you find that you walk less than you normally would due to unexplainable aches in your legs? Do sores on your feet seem to take forever to heal? Do your legs have a tendency to become much colder than your arms? If so, it sounds like you may be exhibiting the signs of peripheral artery disease (PAD) in your lower extremities. Prairie Path Podiatry can help you understand more about this common circulatory problem.

Atherosclerosis – Narrowing Arteries

PAD stems from an array of causes, but the main issue centers on the hardening and narrowing of your arteries, which is known as atherosclerosis. This condition can result from physical inactivity, smoking, high blood pressure, and high blood cholesterol. Given that these causes are lifestyle-based in nature, there is plenty of encouragement for those who want to be proactive in taking steps to prevent peripheral artery disease.

In addition to the aforementioned causes, diabetes is also a major cause for this condition. Those who live with diabetes have an increased risk of developing worse cases of PAD than otherwise healthy individuals. Treatment also tends to be less effective for those who have diabetes, but it is certainly possible to still see progress in these instances.

Recognizing Peripheral Artery Disease

There are a variety of symptoms that will indicate that you are currently living with this condition, including pain, numbness, wounds not healing properly, and cold legs and feet. When you experience pain in your muscles, it occurs due to the long arteries in your legs becoming narrowed. You may also feel pain during exercise and physical activity that goes away after you have stopped. Typical areas where this is observed include your feet, calves, thighs, and hips.

Some individuals with this ailment may experience numbness and burning. Others will have wounds that do not heal properly, loss of leg hair, and shiny skin on their legs. This results from a diminished amount of nutrients and oxygen being delivered with the poor blood flow. Poor circulation will also cause your legs to feel colder than your arms and provide a fainter pulse in your feet than you have in your hands.

It is important to note that you may have severe blockage, but without accompanying pain. When you experience this, it means that your body has developed blood vessels that are circumventing the blockage altogether.

Professional PAD Diagnosing

One method for determining whether you have peripheral artery disease is to compare the blood pressure at both your ankle and your upper arm. For a healthy individual, the measurements will be the same. If we were to discover that the blood pressure in your ankle is lower, it will let us know that PAD is certainly  a possibility.

We may use an X-ray—an angiogram, specifically—for diagnosing severe cases of the condition. An angiogram entails having a dye injected into one of your blood vessels to provide a better look at your blood flow and what is actually happening inside.

Treatment for Peripheral Artery Disease

Treatment for this condition is centered on achieving two goals: managing symptoms and stopping the progression of atherosclerosis. Managing the accompanying pain is an important component to allowing you to resume physical activities, which is vital for conditioning your muscles to use oxygen more efficiently. Keeping atherosclerosis in check is key for reducing the risk of stroke or heart attacks.

We can’t imagine that you need one more reason to give up smoking and tobacco use, but doing so can help turn the tide against this ailment. Exercising regularly and a healthy diet are other lifestyle choices that we always endorse, but will also help with preventing, and even treating, PAD. You can go a long way in keeping this condition in check by watching your blood pressure and cholesterol.

Healthier lifestyle choices will definitely help, but prescription medications may be needed as well. Some prescriptions are proven to improve blood flow, which helps with this ailment.

Whether you need treatment for peripheral artery disease, or would simply like more information on the topic, contact Prairie Path Podiatry. Call our Geneva, IL, office by calling (630) 845-3338 or using our online request form today.

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