What is poor circulation?
Peripheral arterial disease affects about 12 million people in the United States. It is a condition that is caused due to the occlusion of arteries due to atherosclerosis. Often called peripheral arterial disease (PAD), this condition occurs due to a result of cholesterol and plaque buildup in the arteries of the lower extremities. This causes decreased blood flow to the legs. This condition commonly happens in elderly people as these deposits build up over a long period of time in their arteries. This is the same type of problem that causes heart attacks and strokes when it affects the arteries to the heart or the arteries to the brain. All can lead to serious consequences if not evaluated, treated, and monitored properly.
The earliest symptom of the disease is muscular pain in the leg. As the disease progresses, patients complain about pain at rest and pain that gets worse with elevation. In later stages of the disease, arteries are not able to delivery blood to the tissue and this leads to tissue ischemia and eventually the patient is in extreme pain and the foot and toes will appear black from lack of oxygen. In severe cases, PAD progresses to ulceration and gangrene. About one third of the patients suffering from PAD require amputation which not only affects the quality of life in these patients, but also affects the life expectancy of the patient.
People who are at risk for PAD
age, sex, atherosclerosis, hypertension, Diabetes mellitus, smoking, hyperlipidemia, cardiovascular disease, poor diet, alcoholism, renal insufficiency, and family history. Smokers are particularly at risk for poor peripheral arterial disease. Every time a cigarette is smoked it causes constriction of the arteries reducing the blood flow. It can take as long as 20 to 30 minutes after the cigarette for this process to reverse and if smoking goes on for a long enough period of time, sometimes damage will become irreversible. People who are overweight and have high cholesterol levels also are prone to this significant disease. Diabetics also frequently have PAD from the above factors, but in addition the small blood vessels to the feet are damaged when sugar control is improper over a long period of time. This is an extra risk for diabetics and if they smoke and have high cholesterol now have three strikes against them.
What are symptoms of PAD?
- Diminished or absent foot pulses.
- Pain in the legs or feet brought on by exercise and relieved by rest.
- Pain in the legs at rest in particular when in bed at night.
- Poorly healing wounds on the feet or legs.
- A feeling of coldness with discoloration to the skin of the feet and legs.
What can I do if I notice any of these symptoms?
Be sure to mention to your doctor any of these symptoms when you come for a visit. After a clinical evaluation, the doctor may recommend a PAD test to be done right here in our office. This test is a very simple, noninvasive test that takes about 30 minutes. This test can help give us additional information concerning the blood flow in the feet and legs, so we may advise you with recommendations to improve your circulation.
Why Am I Having the PAD Testing Done?
Your podiatrist suspects possible narrowing or blockage of the arteries.
PAD VASCULAR TEST
In Dr. Theall’s office, we have state-of-the-art vascular testing procedures are done in under 30minutes and are painless. The vascular test results are recorded in office and evaluated by Dr. Theall and your primary care physician to ensure you are being treated and that the proper treatment can be determined for you.
How do I prepare for the test?
- Be sure to wear loose fitting clothes or pants that can be pulled up above the needs.
- Do not smoke or use tobacco at least 30 minutes prior to your test.
- Please advise us if you have had any surgery, or injury to your legs in the past.
What happens next?
After the testing is performed, the doctor will briefly review the findings and then schedule you for an appointment in 7 to 10 days for a complete discussion of your PAD test results. If poor circulation has been determined through a clinical examination, your history, and the results of the test, consultations can be arranged to help improve your circulation. In addition, we will be glad to provide a copy of the test for your primary doctor or endocrinologist for their records so they can have this essential health information.
- There are essentially no risks with this non-invasive test.
- The PAD vascular test takes about 30-45 minutes.
- The results of the test will be ready within 7-10 days and will be discussed in detail at your next visit.
- After the test, you can continue any and all regular daily activities.
Patient education is crucial in screening for the warning signs of PAD. The sooner the patient discovers the disease, the greater are the chances of developing debilitating conditions that lead to amputations. If you are experiencing leg pains upon rest you should seek the opinion of a professional, Dr. Theall. He will be able to provide you with the proper treatment and evaluation of the foot pain you are experiencing. Feel free to come or call Dr. Theall’s office, Gentle Touch Foot Care for a full comprehensive and thorough evaluation to discuss your foot health.
For more information, contact our East Orange office at 973-673-FOOT (3668).