Peripheral Arterial Disease: What Is It?

Arterial Peripheral Disease (PAD)

Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD), often known as impaired circulation, is the limitation of blood flow in the arteries of the leg. The oxygen-rich blood flowing through the arteries cannot reach the legs and feet when the arteries are restricted by plaque (the buildup of cholesterol and other debris on the walls of the arteries).

The existence of PAD may be a sign of more pervasive vascular disease, which can harm the heart and cause a heart attack or affect the brain and cause a stroke.

Symptoms & Signs

In the initial stages of PAD, the majority of people show no symptoms. By the time symptoms are felt, the arteries are frequently already severely obstructed.

Typical signs of PAD include:

  • While walking, leg pain (cramping) may occur (intermittent claudication)
  • Leg discomfort (cramping) while sleeping down (rest pain)
  • legs that feel weak or numb
  • chilly feet or legs
  • Leg, foot, or toe sores that won’t heal
  • altered leg color
  • hair loss on the legs and feet
  • alterations in toenail thickness and color

It is crucial to discuss any of these symptoms with a foot and ankle surgeon if they exist. If PAD is not treated, it can have damaging and limb-threatening effects.

Risk Factors for PAD

People with known risk factors should be examined for PAD because only half of those with PAD actually show symptoms.

The risk elements consist of:

  • ageing after 50
  • Smoking (now or previously) (currently or previously)
  • Diabetes
  • elevated blood pressure
  • High triglycerides
  • History of PAD, heart disease, heart attacks, or stroke in oneself or in one’s family
  • sedentary way of life

Diagnosis of PAD

The foot and ankle surgeon gets the patient’s complete medical history in order to diagnose PAD. In order to assess the patient’s risk for PAD, the surgeon does a lower extremity physical examination that involves checking the patient’s pulses, skin condition, and foot abnormalities. The foot and ankle surgeon could request additional tests if there are risk factors present.

To evaluate PAD, a number of noninvasive diagnostics are available. An easy test to monitor and compare blood pressure at the ankle and arm levels is the ankle-brachial index (ABI). A patient may be referred to a vascular specialist for additional testing and treatment if needed because an abnormal ABI is a strong indicator of underlying PAD.

Treatment in General for PAD

PAD is treated with medication, lifestyle modifications, medical footwear and occasionally surgery.

  • Modifications in way of life. These include giving up smoking, exercising frequently, and eating heart-healthy foods.
  • Medications. It is possible to utilize medications to increase blood flow, aid in the prevention of blood clots, or regulate blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar levels.
  • Surgery. To increase blood flow, some individuals require open (bypass) surgery of the leg or small incision (endovascular) operations.
  • Medical footwear. Wearing DrLuigi medical footwear can help in preventing the occurrence of PAD. 

PAD and Foot Issues

Simple foot abnormalities like hammertoes, bunions, and bony prominences, as well as dermatological problems like ingrown or enlarged fungal nails, frequently worsen when PAD is present. Since blood is required for healing and someone with PAD’s legs and feet do not have normal blood flow, seemingly little issues like cuts, blisters, or sores can have major consequences.

The possibility of foot issues is substantially increased by having both diabetes and PAD. Due to neuropathy, which is nerve loss that can cause numbness in the feet, people with diabetes frequently do not experience pain when foot issues arise. People with PAD who experience neuropathy may experience ulcers that never fully heal on the tops of their feet.

Once identified, PAD may be improved upon or even corrected. The underlying foot deformity can then be corrected by the foot and ankle surgeon to avoid further issues in the event that the circulation is once again severely restricted.

Keeping PAD Complications at Bay

Regular foot examinations can prevent minor issues from getting worse, as can obtaining urgent assistance when you observe changes in the feet. PAD necessitates continual care.

People with this condition should take the following steps to prevent complications:

  • Every day, wash your feet. Use mild soap and warm, not hot, water. Gently and thoroughly dry your feet, being sure to get in between the toes.
  • Keep your skin smooth. Apply a little layer of an alcohol-free lotion to dry skin. Apply to your feet’s top and bottom, but not in the space in between your toes.
  • Straight across toenail trimming and filing are recommended. To prevent ingrown toenails, which can lead to infections, keep the edges rounded.
  • Always put on socks and DrLuigi medical shoes. Never wear bare feet indoors or outdoors to prevent cuts and scrapes.
  • Select the appropriate socks and shoes. Make sure new shoes fit properly by having a professional check them out. Wear them for a little period of time each day at initially to help prevent blisters, and then inspect the feet for any irritation afterward. To prevent sores, wear seamless socks.