Peripheral artery disease (PAD) is a circulatory problem common in those who smoke or have diabetes. It causes the arteries to narrow and restrict blood flow to the limbs, especially to the legs and feet. PAD can cause pain and numbness in the legs and feet, so it’s difficult to feel if there are any developing wounds. Sometimes PAD can be treated by making lifestyle changes such as getting regular exercise and eating a healthier diet. If left untreated, PAD can lead to more serious complications such as leg/foot amputation or death. Which is exactly why you should seek an exam from our experienced Fort Worth podiatrists.
Risk Factors and Signs of Peripheral Artery Disease
Those who are age 50 or older with a history of diabetes or smoking are at risk for PAD, as well as those with a family member who suffers from the disease. In addition, others at risk for PAD include:
- Those who have high cholesterol or high blood pressure
- Those with a family history of heart attack or stroke
- Those who are overweight
- Those who get little or no exercise
Having diabetes and PAD can be dangerous and increases your risk for other foot problems. For diabetic patients with neuropathy, they may not feel a problem such as a foot wound or ulcer until it has become infected. This infection can become serious and require amputation of the foot/leg to prevent further spread of the infection to the bones or other areas of the body.
In the early stages of PAD, there may be little or no symptoms. However, once symptoms are noticeable, the disease may already be progressing and the arteries already blocked. Some signs of PAD may include:
- Pain or cramps in the legs when walking
- Numbness or weakness
- Cold feet or legs
- Weak pulse in the feet
- Change in color of the legs or feet
- Loss of hair on the legs or feet
- Sores that do not heal or are slow to heal
- Changes in color and thickness of toenails
- Erectile dysfunction in diabetic men
If you notice any signs of PAD, consult with our Fort Worth podiatrists immediately. If left untreated, PAD can lead to more serious complications such as limb amputation or death.
Diagnosing and Treating Peripheral Artery Disease
Our Fort Worth podiatrists can diagnose PAD and recommend treatment options to help prevent serious complication associated with the disease. To diagnose PAD, your physician will take your medical history and perform a physical exam of your legs and feet to check for their pulse, the condition of the skin, and any deformities. Your doctor may also use the ankle-brachial index test which compares the blood pressure in your arm to the blood pressure in your ankle. An abnormal reading can indicate PAD and require further testing such as:
- An angiography
- A CT angiography
- Duplex ultrasonography
- Magnetic resonance angiography
Once PAD is diagnosed, your doctor may recommend lifestyle changes that include daily exercise, eating a healthy diet, and stopping smoking. Treatment options can help prevent limb amputation or death and may include:
- Medication to help improve blood flow, as well as control high blood pressure, high glucose levels, or high cholesterol.
- For diabetic patients who have a severe buildup of arterial plaque, a procedure may be required to remove the plaque. This can help restore blood flow to the feet and legs to reduce pain and help with the healing of any foot ulcers.
Tips for Avoiding PAD-Related Foot Problems
It is important for diabetic patients to see Fort Worth podiatrists regularly. A podiatrist can check your feet for wounds or changes that might become problematic. You should do a daily self-check of your feet to look for any cuts, blisters, ulcers, or abnormalities. Since PAD may cause numbness in your feet, you may not feel these wounds, and they could become infected.
Some tips to consider to prevent complications of PAD include:
- Wash your feet daily using warm water and a mild soap. Be sure to dry your feet thoroughly including between your toes.
- Wear socks and shoes to protect your feet. Avoid going barefoot.
- Cut your toenails straight across to avoid ingrown toenails.
- Wear shoes that fit properly and do not cause blisters.
Contact Our Fort Worth Podiatrists With Help for PAD
If you are experiencing pain or notice changes in your feet, contact our Fort Worth podiatrists for an evaluation. The team at Alliance Foot & Ankle Specialists can create a treatment plan to help with PAD and to keep your feet pain free. To request an appointment in our Grapevine or Keller office, fill out our convenient online contact form, or call our office today.