What Is Peripheral Artery Disease (P.A.D.)?
P.A.D. (peripheral arterial disease) is a health condition that can cause poor blood flow to the arms, legs or feet. P.A.D. can be treated without the need for open surgery or general anesthesia.
How to Identify and Treat P.A.D.
PAD is a serious disease which, left untreated, can lead to hip, leg and buttock pain, sores that don’t heal and eventually amputation.
Common symptoms of PAD include:
- Pain in one or both hips, buttocks and/or legs (most commonly in the calves), usually after walking
- Leg weakness or numbness
- Coldness in one foot
- Sores on the feet or lower legs that won’t heal
- Shiny skin or color changes on the legs
- Weak or undetectable pulse in the legs
- Erectile dysfunction in men
Some people with PAD don’t experience any symptoms, but symptoms may begin to manifest as the disease progresses.
Treatment for PAD
If you fail to seek treatment for PAD, you run the risk of losing your foot or leg. The first line of treatment for PAD is to manage your symptoms and improve your health so that the atherosclerosis does not progress. This usually involves quitting smoking, losing weight, and exercising regularly as well as taking medications as needed for cholesterol, blood pressure, diabetes, blood clot prevention and pain.
For more serious cases of PAD, CIC’s interventional radiologists offer non-surgical endovascular treatment of PAD. During the procedure, a catheter is inserted directly into the affected artery under local anesthesia, and a sharp blade is used to physically remove plaque buildup, widen the artery, and improve blood flow.
Living with PAD
If you have been diagnosed with PAD, you’ll need to take steps to protect your feet and legs as well as do your part to stay on top of the disease so that it doesn’t get worse.
Don’t skip appointments. Atherosclerosis is a systemic disease that can get progressively worse and affect different parts of your body, including your brain and heart. Keeping your scheduled appointments will help your doctor ensure the condition is under control.
Exercise. Success with PAD is often measured by how far you can walk without pain. While exercising may be painful, it is an important part of managing the disease and teaching your muscles to use oxygen more efficiently. Go for regular walks, taking breaks as needed, but not giving up. Your goal is 30 minutes of light exercise per day. Yoga and stretching are good options as well.
Monitor your feet and legs. People with PAD can easily develop serious foot problems because lack of blood flow makes it difficult for small cuts or injuries to heal properly. Check your feet and toes daily for sores, be careful when trimming your nails, and see a foot specialist promptly for any foot issues.
Quit smoking. If you are a smoker, now is the time to stop. Smoking is one of the most common causes of PAD, and every cigarette makes you sicker. We can’t stress enough how important it is to quit by any means necessary. If you need help, ask your doctor for medications or support group referrals. Many, many people have quit before you and you can, too!
Follow a heart-healthy diet. A diet low in saturated fats, salt, sugar and alcohol and high in healthy food options like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish and lean meats can help halt atherosclerosis.
Avoid certain cold medications. The ingredient pseudoephedrine, commonly found in over-the-counter cold medicines, can constrict your blood vessels and make PAD symptoms worse.
Keep your feet warm. Cold temperatures often make symptoms worse. The more you can avoid getting cold, the more comfortable you’ll be.
Raise the head of your bed. Maintaining your legs below the level of your heart often helps with the pain of PAD. This can be done by raising the head of your bed between 4 and 6 inches at night and hanging your legs over the side of the bed for relief during the day.
We are committed to helping our patients with PAD get the most out of life. If you suffer from PAD or think your symptoms might be related to circulation problems, call for an appointment today.
Discover how our
approach to treating
neuropathy can beneﬁt
you or a loved one.
Among their other treatment options, Comprehensive Integrated Care physicians offer a number of innovative therapies for neuropathy. To find out more about them, and how these therapies may help you or a loved one, complete the form below and one of our specialists will contact you.
Meet Your Expert Utah Team
Joel R. Rainwater, MD
Ryan G. O’Hara, MD