In honor of National Heart Month, we at New England Foot & Ankle Specialists would like to discuss a disease that manifests in the legs and feet but has serious ramifications for the heart and other parts of the body. Sometimes referred to as “poor circulation,” Peripheral Arterial Disease (P.A.D.) is a condition where blood flow to the legs and feet is limited because of a narrowing of the arteries due to a buildup of plaque on the artery walls. If Peripheral Arterial Disease is detected, it may be an indicator that arterial disease is present throughout the body, which can lead to heart attack or stroke.
Signs of P.A.D.
Initially, a person with P.A.D. may not have any symptoms. As the disease progresses, patients may notice the following:
- Leg cramping when lying down
- Leg cramping while walking
- Weakness or numbness in the legs
- Sores that won’t heal on legs, feet or toes
- Legs and feet feel cold
- Changes in skin color
- Loss of hair on legs and feet
- Discoloration or thickening of toenails
Unfortunately, by the time these signs are noticeable, the arteries have narrowed considerably. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it is very important to make an appointment with one our podiatrists, George A. Abboud, D.P.M., Brian D. Tedesco, D.P.M., Carl Conui, D.P.M., or Kimberly Thurmond, D.P.M. The foot doctor will conduct a thorough examination of the lower extremities and also take a complete medical history. There are a number of non-invasive tests involving blood pressure and measuring your pulse that the podiatrist can use to determine if P.A.D. is present. If tests results point to P.A.D., your foot doctor may recommend that you see a vascular specialist for further evaluation and treatment.
Generally, the treatment for P.A.D. involves a combination of medication and lifestyle changes such as changing diet, increasing exercise and stopping smoking. In some instances, surgery may be a method chosen to increase blood flow. Left untreated, P.A.D. can lead to serious health issues so don’t delay in making an appointment at our Reading office if you have any symptoms of this debilitating disease.