Poor circulation or artery problems can be caused by a spectrum of different diseases or disorders. By the nature of these diseases, living with peripheral arterial disease (PAD) can cause all manner of health struggles, from wounds that refuse to health to difficulty controlling extremities.
Main Street Medical Clinics is dedicated to helping our patients manage chronic health struggles and lead a fulfilling life. Our testing and management systems for PAD are only part of the process, however. Here are a few ways you can help your doctor care for you and take charge of your own health.
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Symptoms of PAD
PAD restricts the flow of blood to and from your legs. This condition leads to several easily identifiable symptoms, including:
- Leg pain or cramping with no clear cause
- Numbness in the leg
- Persistent feelings of cold in the leg, ankle, or foot
- A scab or infection on your leg that won’t heal
- Yellowed toenails that don’t seem to grow
- Discolored or “shiny” skin on the leg
- Loss of hair on the leg
A stroke occurs when fats, cholesterol, or similar compounds in the bloodstream block arteries that bring blood to the brain. This causes brain damage and can have long-lasting consequences if not treated in time. PAD occurs by a similar process on a less life-threatening scale. Cholesterol or other types of fat block blood flow to the legs and feet, starving your leg muscles of nutrients and oxygen they need to function. Severe damage and pain can result if this is left untreated for too long.
PAD often appears as a consequence of atherosclerosis, a disease characterized by severe plaque buildup in the patients’ arteries. Doctors don’t know the exact cause of atherosclerosis. However, several triggers and risk factors have been identified. You are likely to develop atherosclerosis if any of these symptoms apply to you:
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol in the bloodstream
- High fat in the bloodstream
- High sugar in the blood (due to diabetes or insulin resistance)
- Long-term smoking
Any of these conditions damage the interior of your arteries and increases your likelihood to develop atherosclerosis. If the buildups caused by this condition become severe enough and continue long enough, PAD isn’t far behind.
Pro Tip: Anything that increases your risk of blood clots forming increases your risk for stroke, PAD, and other conditions caused by restricted blood circulation. Take care to not restrict your body’s blood flow through poor health habits.
Our doctors are trained to identify symptoms of PAD through noninvasive methods to put you on the road to proper treatment. Your PAD exam will likely include the following assessments:
- Questionnaire about your symptoms
- Physical exam
- Health history analysis
- ABI screening to test your blood flow levels
- Examination of photographs of your legs and feet
- Ultrasounds or doppler examinations
- Pedal pulses check (measuring your pulse in blood vessels in your feet)
Once we’ve determined the extent of your PAD, we can begin a treatment plan. We’ll help you get back control over your circulation and your limbs.
Managing Chronic Artery Diseases
Diseases in the circulatory system can become serious very quickly. Time and quality care are of the essence in these cases. Talk to your doctor if you suspect you have PAD or at risk for developing it. Preventive measures could prevent your current condition from worsening further.
Join the conversation to learn more about our chronic care programs.