What Is PAD?
PAD is a condition where arteries become narrowed or clogged due to plaque buildup caused by fatty deposits. Those with diabetes or venous insufficiency are at a greater risk for the disease. PAD can lead to decreased blood flow, which can cause pain, numbness, and other symptoms in the legs and feet. Over time, this lack of proper blood flow can cause damage to tissues, resulting in ulcers, infections, or even gangrene. If PAD is left untreated, it can lead to amputation or death.
Signs of PAD
- Pain or numbness in your legs or feet. PAD can cause pain or numbness in the lower leg, foot, and toes. The pain may feel like a cramp or tightness in the muscles, similar to what you would feel after exercising for an extended period. This pain typically subsides when resting your legs but returns when walking or exercising again.
- Cold feet or toes. Many people with PAD have decreased circulation due to the narrowing of their arteries, making it difficult for their feet and toes to stay warm. This symptom often indicates that not enough blood is being circulated through these areas of your body.
- Weak pulses in your legs or feet. If you press on your ankles with two fingers, you should be able to feel a pulse. A weakened pulse could indicate poor circulation due to narrowed arteries. If you are having trouble feeling this pulse, it may be time to speak with a doctor about PAD.
- Discoloration of skin on your legs or feet. Your skin may look pale or blue due to insufficient oxygen-rich blood supply from narrowed arteries caused by PAD. This discoloration may also appear shiny from swelling caused by fluid buildup due to poor circulation in your limbs.
How a Podiatrist Can Help With PAD
If you are suffering from PAD, you need the help of a skilled podiatrist who has the knowledge and experience needed to diagnose and treat this condition. Whether you are dealing with pain and discomfort in your legs or concerned about the long-term complications of PAD, a podiatrist can recommend options to help manage your symptoms.
Your podiatrist will evaluate your condition, work with other members of your care team, and/or refer you to another specialist if necessary. At Austin Foot and Ankle Specialists, we have noninvasive testing for PAD called PADnet. This testing allows us to get all the necessary information without cutting into your body. PADnet makes it possible for podiatrists to diagnose the condition at its earliest stages to decrease the risk of serious, life-threatening complications.
Possible Treatment for PAD
- Lifestyle changes such as weight management, stopping smoking, and increased physical activity
- Medications such as cholesterol-lowering drugs or antiplatelet drugs
- Minimally invasive treatments such as angioplasty
- Surgery may be needed for more severe cases
In addition, a podiatrist can recommend specialty shoes or custom orthotics to help ease the symptoms of PAD. A podiatrist can also provide advanced wound-healing services. Since patients with PAD may have wounds that don’t heal easily, it is essential to see a podiatrist as soon as possible, so wounds don’t become infected.
Contact Our Austin Podiatrist Today
If you have pain and/or numbness in your feet and ankles, contact our skilled podiatrists at Austin Foot and Ankle Specialists for an evaluation. We can provide various treatment options based on your individual needs. To schedule an appointment, contact us online, or call our office at 512-328-8900.