You may notice your doctor touch each of your ankles briefly during a physical exam. The doctor is feeling for pulses in your feet that only a trained professional is able to detect. The quality of blood flow to your feet can be assessed by the strength of these pulses.
When the blood flow to your feet is inadequate, you may have peripheral vascular disease, also known as PVD. This disease occurs when plaque and cholesterol build up in the arteries that lead to your legs and feet, restricting the blood flow.
Symptoms of Peripheral Vascular Disease
Although some people have no PVD symptoms, you may experience pain or just some discomfort when walking. Often this pain occurs in the calves, but can be felt wherever there are arteries narrowing. The pain usually eases when resting. Other symptoms include:
- Sores or ulcers that heal slowly
- Less hair growth on the lower limbs
- Skin color changes – blue or pale – or a cooler temperature
What Causes Peripheral Vascular Disease?
Those with diabetes, coronary artery disease or high blood pressure are at an increased risk of PVD, as are those who smoke or have a sedentary lifestyle. This condition often affects men, those over age 50 and women who are postmenopausal.
Of all of these risk factors, diabetes and smoking are the most significant since they also decrease blood flow.
Let Your Feet Be Your Advanced Warning Signals
Often, those who suffer from PVD also have coronary arterial disease, or CAD. CAD causes a reduction in the blood flow in the arteries leading to your heart, which is a very dangerous scenario.
By checking the pulse in your feet, your doctor can determine if you have PVD, which can also lead to CAD. In other words, your feet can give you an early warning of heart disease!
Treating Peripheral Vascular Disease
If you notice any of the above symptoms, Pasco-Hernando Foot & Ankle urges you to visit your doctor right away.
Your doctor will work to halt the progress of this disease, as well as manage your symptoms. Vascular tests, blood work and imaging, such as x-rays and ultrasounds, can confirm the diagnosis. Treatments include lifestyle changes, blood thinning medications, angioplasty or vascular surgery.
Prevent PVD by taking good care of your health:
- Stop smoking.
- Eat right and maintain a healthy weight.
- Work with your doctor to manage any health conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure.
We Can Help With All Types of Foot and Ankle Pain
Dr. Lawrence J. Kales, board certified podiatrist has the right experience to diagnose and treat all types of foot and ankle problems and injuries. Please come in to Pasco-Hernando Foot & Ankle for an examination – you can request an appointment via the website or call us at our Hudson office at 727 868-2128 or our Spring Hill office at 352 683-5799.