Peripheral artery disease (PAD) is one of the most common and most serious threats to the continued health and safety of your legs and feet, especially for those with diabetes and venous insufficiency.
People with PAD don’t get enough blood flow to their legs and feet, which can lead to several severe consequences—including a dramatic increase in the risk of developing diabetic and ischemic ulcers, severe infections, and even amputation. If left completely untreated, the five-year fatality rate for PAD is as high as 1 in 3.
Yet it’s also frequently a “silent” threat. As many as 40% of people with PAD don’t ever develop pain or other obvious external symptoms. That means you may already be at severe risk without realizing it.
At Austin Foot and Ankle Specialists, our team provides comprehensive testing, preventative care, and treatment for PAD and related conditions. We have also partnered with a local office-based laboratory to assist our patients who require higher-level testing or surgical management.
If you have PAD, think you might have PAD, or have several risk factors for PAD, leave nothing to chance! Give us a call so we can ensure you get the high-quality testing and care you require.
What Is Peripheral Artery Disease?
Peripheral artery disease, also known as PAD, peripheral arterial disease, or peripheral vascular disease (PVD), is a condition that causes a gradual, progressive reduction in the amount of blood, oxygen, and nutrients that reach the feet and legs.
In most cases, the cause is the slow build-up of plaque (atherosclerosis) inside the narrow blood vessels that supply the feet and lower legs. The more the plaque builds up, the less space is available for blood to access and resupply the extremities.
As mentioned above, not everyone will experience the exact same set of symptoms from PAD, and some may experience few if any noticeable symptoms at all—at least not before the disease becomes severe.
Some of the more common possible symptoms include:
- Intermittent pain or cramping in your legs (hips, calf, thighs), particularly after exercise.
- Sores that won’t heal. These could be on the toes, feet, or legs.
- Muscle weakness in the legs.
- Sensations of cold, numbness, or tingling in the lower legs. One leg may have stronger symptoms than the other.
- Weak pulse in the legs.
- Hair loss (or slow hair growth) on the legs.
- Color change in the skin
Am I at Risk? Do I Need to Be Tested?
Factors known to increase your risk of PAD include age, diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, a history of smoking, and family history.
We strongly recommend you seek regular testing for PAD for people in the following scenarios:
- Anyone 65 and older, regardless of medical history.
- Anyone 50-64 with at least one significant risk factor for PAD (diabetes, obesity, family history, etc.).
- Anyone of any age who is experiencing any of the potential symptoms of PAD (see above).
This might seem like overkill at first, but trust us: this is not something you want to take a chance on. The potential consequences of failing to identify the early signs of PAD can often be dire. But the good news is that testing is simple, quick, and totally painless. There is NO downside, and potentially much to gain.
Comprehensive Medical Services for Those With PAD (or Are at High Risk)
At Austin Foot and Ankle Specialists, we provide a full range of services to help our patients prevent, manage, and treat PAD. Services include:
- PADnet diagnostic testing. This simple, painless, and non-invasive test uses an air cuff and a specialized LED sensor that measures changes in blood volume in small blood vessels. This allows us to compare blood pressure at different points of your body and determine if, and where, blood is being constricted.
- Local laboratory partnership. Austin Foot and Ankle Specialists is proud to partner with a new, local office-based laboratory providing even higher-level testing and surgical care options for those who require them. This gives our patients easy, direct access to the current “best of the best” in PAD testing and management technology, and continues our commitment to providing you with the highest standards of care.
- Preventative treatments and care. If PAD is identified, it’s critically important to take steps to both slow the rate of disease progression, as well as protect your feet and legs from damage. This includes making healthy lifestyle changes such as managing your weight and diabetes, eating a healthy diet, quitting smoking, and exercising regularly. It may also include treatments such as diabetic shoes, custom orthotics, and taking certain medications.
- Advanced wound healing services. PAD not only makes foot and leg wounds more likely but also more dangerous since low blood flow also keeps the immune system from mounting an effective defense against severe infections. We specialize in advanced wound healing techniques, including the use of amniotic fluids and grafts, to help diabetic ulcers, ischemic ulcers, and other wounds heal quickly and fully, minimizing the risk of infection.
Why Choose a Podiatrist for PAD Testing and Care?
PAD is often considered to be within the “realm” of vascular specialists and cardiologists, but because the condition heavily involves and affects the feet—and is closely linked with many other foot conditions—a podiatrist is also a logical choice. We are trained in all aspects of foot and ankle care, which very much includes vascular concerns.
If you are already seeing us for your foot care, or don’t currently have a vascular specialist or cardiologist as part of your medical team, being able to get your PAD testing and care from Austin Foot and Ankle Specialists is a great way to cut down on the number of appointments you need to schedule and specialists you need to see, as well as eliminate unnecessary wait times.
This is an extremely valuable service we are able to provide, particularly for our patients with diabetes, that makes it easier than ever to protect your health and prevent serious complications. Of course, we are also happy to coordinate with other members of your medical team and provide referrals to other specialists when needed or desired.
This is an extremely valuable service we are able to provide, particularly for our patients with diabetes, that makes it easier than ever to protect your health and prevent serious complications. Following practice guidelines and protocols from the nationally recognized institutions and associations (shown below) allow us to survey patients early and aid in the identification of those who would benefit from PAD testing. We are also happy to coordinate with other members of your medical team and provide referrals to other specialists when needed or desired.
Are You Looking for a Peripheral Artery Disease Specialist in Austin, TX?
If you are looking for peripheral artery disease tissue care, you should reach out to an experienced podiatrist. Austin Foot and Ankle Specialists can help. Our office provides a wide variety of advanced, effective treatment options for all kinds of painful conditions. Ready to schedule an appointment? Contact us online or call our Austin office at 512.328.8900.