Peripheral Vascular Disease

Peripheral vascular disease, or peripheral arterial disease, is a circulatory problem that affects the width of the body’s arteries and reduces blood flow to the limbs.

Patients who develop this disease do not receive sufficient blood flow to their limbs; usually their legs. This can cause several symptoms, the most noticeable being leg pain.

Peripheral vascular disease may also be a sign of fatty deposits within the arteries. In addition to restricting blood flow to the legs, this disease may also affect the heart and brain.

This disease can often be successfully treated by quitting smoking, adopting healthy eating habits, and exercising. Diagnosing and treating the condition early on can prevent it from becoming worse, and reduce the risk of stroke and heart disease.

Picture of Peripheral Vascular Disease

colorado foot institute peripheral vascular disease

Peripheral Vascular Disease Symptoms

Although peripheral vascular diseases may cause mild or no symptoms, an estimated one in ten will experience leg pain while walking. This is known as intermittent claudication.

Intermittent claudication is classified by cramping or muscle pain in the legs or arms that is triggered by activity, but disappears shortly after resting. The areas in which pain is experienced depend on the location of the narrowed or clogged artery. Calf and foot pain are the most common.

The seriousness of intermittent claudication may vary, from mild to debilitating pain. Severe cases can hinder daily physical activities.

Peripheral vascular disease symptoms include:

  • Painful cramping within the hip, calf, or thigh muscles following even mildly strenuous activity
  • Numbness or weakness of the leg
  • Coldness in one leg or foot, but not the other
  • Sores on the toes, legs, or feet that do not heal
  • Any change in the color of the legs
  • Hair loss on the legs and feet
  • Changes in the toenails

As the disease progresses, you may experience pain even while resting or lying down. This pain can be severe enough to disrupt sleep. You may be able to alleviate this pain by positioning your legs so they hang off of your bed, or by walking around the room.

Peripheral Vascular Disease Treatment

There are two major goals of treatment for this disease. First, is to alleviate the symptoms so you may continue about your daily physical activities. Second, we aim to stop the advancement of atherosclerosis throughout the body to reduce the risk of stroke and heart attack.

It may be possible to achieve these goals by changing your lifestyle. For instance, quitting smoking is extremely important as it pertains to reducing complications associated with blockage.

If changing your lifestyle is not enough, medical treatment may be necessary. Medication may be prescribed to help lower cholesterol and blood pressure, prevent blood clots, and to help treat pain or other symptoms.

Treatments for peripheral vascular disease:

  • Cholesterol lowering medications. These medications will help to reduce the risk of stroke or heart attack. Being prescribed to this medication is a good indicator that it’s time to quit smoking.
  • Blood pressure medications. High blood pressure can contribute to the advancement of peripheral vascular disease and sometimes ACE inhibitors and beta blockers are prescribed to lower blood pressure levels.
  • Medications for blood sugar. Some patients may also have diabetes, in these cases, it is critical that blood sugar be controlled.
  • Medications that prevent blood clots. Since peripheral artery disease is associated with narrowed blood vessels, it is important to prevent clots from occurring. A clot that occurs in an already affected blood vessel may be enough to block it completely.

In some severe cases, surgery may be necessary.

We Can Help You

Dr. Mechanik is Board Certified in Foot Surgery and Board Certified in Reconstructive Rear Foot and Ankle surgery. He has the medical and surgical skills to treat your foot conditions.  He and his family are natives of the Denver area.

Dr. Mechanik received his Doctor of Podiatric Medicine (DPM) degree from the the Dr. William M. Scholl College of Podiatric Medicine which is part of the Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science, a national leader in medical education.

Dr. Mechanik then went on to complete a twenty-four month post-graduate Residency training program in Foot and Ankle Surgery and a twenty-four month surgical Fellowship training program in Lower Extremity Musculoskeletal Surgery.

Dr. Mechanik is a Fellow of the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons and a  Diplomate, American Board of Foot and Ankle Surgery.

Dr. Mechanik will examine your medical history and perform a complete physical examination if you are experiencing symptoms of peripheral vascular disease. There are various tests that may also be necessary to confirm the diagnosis of peripheral vascular disease. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms listed above it is advised you schedule an examination in a timely manner, as this condition can be life threatening if it is not treated with haste.  Colorado Foot Institute provides in-office, non-invasive vascular doppler studies, for your convenience and aid in diagnosing unseen peripheral vascular disease.  Early detection can help prevent ulcerations, bone infections and possible amputations.