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Peripheral Arterial Disease

How Circulation Problems Affect Foot Pain

As you get older, plenty of things in your body change. Your eyes weaken, your hearing dims, and you’re not as strong overall. You also begin to develop different aches and pains throughout your body. Some of those aches and pains, however, are not supposed to be a normal part of aging, despite what many people think of them. Sometimes that discomfort, especially in your feet and your ankles, can be a warning sign of a serious underlying problem—like peripheral arterial disease.

Not Just Your Age

Clogging of the ArteriesPeripheral arterial disease (PAD) is the narrowing or clogging of the arteries leading to your limbs. Most commonly, this means your legs. Fatty gunk called plaque builds up along the walls of a section of blood vessel, stiffening and tightening it. The blood then has a harder time flowing through to your tissues. What does this mean for your feet? Because the narrowed vessels restrict the blood traveling to your lower limbs, those tissues are not able to get the full amount of oxygen that they need to be able to function properly. Your feet may develop numb spots, slow-healing injuries, or pain and cramping whenever you’re active. In severe cases, the tissues in your lower limbs may even die and require amputation.

While some people with the disease have little to no trouble, it can become a life-threatening condition. The clog can create a clot, which could lead to a stroke or heart attack. Plaque build-up isn’t restricted to the legs, either—if you have PAD, odds are you also have trouble in blood vessels leading to vital organs, which can also have deadly consequences. Since symptoms can show up in your feet and ankles first, however, you have a chance to catch and combat the problem before you end up hospitalized with a serious complication.

Boosting the Blood Flow

The signs and symptoms to watch for are pain, weakness, or even numbness when you walk or climb stairs. Usually the discomfort will fade after you’ve rested but return when you try to be active again. Other signs include discolored skin, cold spots, a weak or absent pulse in the lower limbs, slow healing sores, loss of hair, or even trouble with your toenail growth. Dr. Noah Levine will examine your feet and lower legs for the possible cause. He may need different tests or diagnostic images to get an accurate diagnosis, but once it has been determined that you have PAD, he'll will work with you to relieve your symptoms and manage the condition so you’re less likely to develop a life-threatening complication.

You may need medications to control your blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Changing your lifestyle to be healthier is also important—you’ll need to cut out smoking and lower your alcohol consumption. Though it may be uncomfortable at first, one of the most valuable things you can do to encourage better circulation and improve the discomfort in your lower limbs is to be active. The experts at Absolute Foot Care Specialists will help you develop a foot-safe exercise plan to carefully increase the blood flow to your feet and ankles. In severe cases, you may need surgery to open up the clogged artery.

Peripheral arterial disease can be a serious condition that not only makes your lower limbs uncomfortable, but could have permanent, or even deadly, complications. Catching and managing the condition early before it has a chance to damage your body tissues is important. If you’re experiencing pain in your feet or ankles, especially when you’re active, don’t just accept it as a part of aging. Contact Absolute Foot Care Specialists in Las Vegas to investigate the source and eliminate your discomfort before it gets out of control. Call (702) 839-2010 or visit our website contact page to reach us for an appointment or more information.