The short answer is that it doesn’t have to. If you’re not sure what peripheral arterial disease (PAD) is or if you have it, you should make an appointment to see your Austin podiatrist. Many individuals who have this problem are unaware of it and regular check-ups with a doctor of podiatric medicine can identify problems early, keeping amputation at bay.
What is PAD? PAD is the narrowing of blood vessels in your arms and legs. There are several causes for this and it is important to know if you are at risk for having or developing PAD. Increased risks for PAD include but are not limited to diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, being 50 years or older, and lack of exercise or activity. We have talked about how smoking, also a risk factor, can have similar effects, but all these risk factors can cause deposits inside your blood vessels or hardening of the walls. This causes the inside of the vessels to narrow and will inhibit the proper amount of blood to flow. This can result in slow wound healing or, at the worst, chronic ulcers. Wounds that stay open for long periods of time are at an increased risk of infection. Infection, and the inability to control it, are what often lead to the need for amputation.
Part of a regular podiatric exam involves checking the blood flow in your legs down to your toes. If there is any question of proper flow, a comparison of ankle and arms pressure, or ABI, is useful in identifying proper treatment. Often changes to diet and exercise along with medications are enough to control early or pre-PAD. If there is a significant decrease in blood flow to your feet, a referral to a vascular specialist for intervention may be necessary. Symptoms of PAD include changes to skin color, calf pain after walking a short distance or at rest, cold feet and legs, or lack of hair growth. If you notice any of these symptoms, make an appointment with Austin Foot and Ankle Specialists.
Until next time, keep those feet and ankles happy and healthy, Austin!