Healthy blood flow is vital for your entire body. All your tissues, no matter where they are or what they do, need sufficient blood—and the nutrients and oxygen it carries—to be able to function properly. Without this, your feet are weakened. This is the risk for conditions like peripheral arterial disease.
This condition is an issue with your circulation that limits the blood flow to your extremities, particularly the lower limbs. The disease causes a narrowing and stiffening of your arteries, which decreases the amount of blood that is able to circulate into the limbs at one time. Typically, a buildup of fatty plaques causes this restriction.
Without sufficient blood flow, the tissues in your lower limbs are unable to receive the necessary amount of oxygen and nutrients. This can slow tissue growth and function. You may notice decreased hair and nail growth, or gradual skin discoloration. Your feet may feel colder than other parts of your body. You may even develop slow-healing sores.
PAD causes an even worse deficiency when you’re active because your feet need more oxygen to continue to function. This can lead to pain when you’re active—sometimes even for something as simple as walking. This is called intermittent claudication. The aching, cramping, numbness, and weakness that results makes it increasingly difficult to participate in physical activities.
Risks to Monitor
Anything that restricts circulation in the body increases your odds for developing peripheral arterial disease, though certain conditions give you a particularly high risk. Diabetes damages your blood vessels, which can make them prone to stiffness and narrowing. High blood pressure and high cholesterol can contribute to plaque formation in your arteries. Genetics and your age can also play a role: Adults aged 50 and older, as well as a family history of heart disease, have a higher risk for developing the problem.
Managing Your Circulation
This condition does not improve on its own. In order to avoid serious or permanent damage, you need to have it diagnosed and treated. Dr. Sanjay Patel can perform a full exam on your lower limbs, which can help identify some of the symptoms of PAD. Additional tests can confirm the diagnosis. Comparing the pulse in your feet to the pulse in your arm, using ultrasound, blood tests, and a few other techniques are all commonly used to identify this disease. Once your condition is diagnosed, you can begin treatment for managing the problem.
Part of treating PAD involves managing the underlying problems that lead to the narrowing of your arteries in the first place. This may mean changing or adding medication to address issues like diabetes, cholesterol, blood pressure, and heart disease. You will also need to begin a safe exercise program to encourage stronger blood flow to your feet. Though it will cause some discomfort at first, increasing your physical activity in a foot-safe way will slowly improve the circulation to your lower limbs, which will improve their health and function with time. If these conservative therapies are not successful, you may need surgery to open up the blocked artery sections.
Most likely, you will need to make some lifestyle changes as part of your recovery. You will need to give up tobacco products and stick to a healthy diet. Limiting your fat and sodium consumption can help decrease plaque buildup. Vegetables and fruits, on the other hand, contain the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients your feet need to heal. If you’re overweight, you’ll need to begin a program to help you manage your body weight as well.
Your circulation is vital for maintaining healthy feet. Without it, you’re more prone to tissue-damaging issues like sores and may struggle with pain during physical activities. If you’ve noticed symptoms of peripheral arterial disease, don’t take it for granted. Contact our team here at Family Foot Care & Surgery, L.L.C. for an appointment or more information. We can help you manage the issue. Use our website contact form or call our two offices to reach us: (203) 876-7736 for the Milford office, or (203) 288-4055 for the Hamden location.