If you’ve ever tried to sip out of a coffee stirrer, you know that it doesn’t work nearly as well as drinking out of a regular straw. The liquid has a difficult time traveling through the stirrer because it is so much narrower. The same holds true when blood tries to flow through narrow arteries—it is much more difficult for it to circulate. This is the basis of peripheral arterial disease, or PAD, which can lead to a host of serious consequences including stroke, heart attacks, and amputation.
Causes Can Be Critical
This condition inhibits circulation to your extremities as a result of plaque building up in your artery walls, narrowing the blood’s passageway. This can lead to serious health issues. Poor diet and lack of exercise are often the culprits. Smoking and being overweight can also contribute to the problem, and those with high cholesterol and blood pressure are at increased risk. Sometimes age and family history play roles as well, and if you have diabetes, peripheral arterial disease is a common concern.
Sometimes people may not even be aware that they are experiencing symptoms of PAD. Leg aches and pains that are triggered by activity and then dissipate at rest (intermittent claudication) can easily be confused with other conditions or, in mild cases, dismissed as just sore muscles. As PAD progresses, however, pain and cramping increase in intensity and duration. You may also experience numbness, weakness, a burning sensation, and your lower legs and feet may feel colder than the rest of you. Changes in skin and nails are also strong indicators of the problem. If you notice hair loss and shiny skin on your legs, and it seems as though your toenails are growing at a snail’s pace, peripheral arterial disease is likely to blame. Other signs include a faint pulse in your feet and sores that do not seem to be healing. If this is the case, call Country Foot Care immediately to address the problem before it turns into a serious complication.
Turning Over a New Leaf
The goal of treatment is twofold: to manage symptoms and to stop the progression. Sometimes a few lifestyle changes are all you need. If you smoke, quit. This alone will significantly reduce your risk. In addition, eating a nutritious diet will help to maintain healthy cholesterol, blood pressure, and weight. Exercise can aid with this as well. There are also medications that can be prescribed to ease discomfort, prevent blood clots, and control cholesterol and blood pressure, as well as sugar levels. In serious cases, surgical procedures may need to be considered.
Poor circulation slows your body’s healing process, so if you have peripheral arterial disease, it is vital that you take extra good care of your feet, especially if you also have diabetes. Even the smallest abrasion can become a huge problem if it becomes infected while trying to heal.
If you notice any signs of PAD, it is important to contact us right away so treatment can stop it in its tracks. Make an appointment with Country Foot Care by calling our offices today. You can also request an appointment online by clicking the MAKE AN APPOINTMENT button at the top of this page.