Suffering from cold, numb or aching hands and feet? This affliction may be due to poor circulation. Don’t wait…if left alone, it will only get worse. Unless…you choose to do something about it! Take control of your health today!
There are simple non-invasive tests here at the clinic that can let you know if your blood flow is being inhibited. This could be due to several causes. The most common causes of poor circulation or Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD) can include diabetes, abnormal cholesterol, cigarette smoking, high blood pressure, even lack of exercise.
With almost each of these, the basis is the same…hardening of the arteries. Also known as atherosclerosis, it occurs when arteries (blood vessels that carry oxygenated blood from the heart to other parts of the body) become narrowed due to fat deposited on the inside walls of the arteries, which then becomes hardened by fibrous tissue and calcification (arteriosclerosis). This plaque can grow, narrowing the diameter of the artery (the space in the artery tubes), thereby reducing both the oxygen and blood supply to the affected area or organ (such as the heart, eyes, kidneys, legs, or the brain). The plaque, if not treated, could eventually block the artery, causing death of the tissue supplied by the artery. This increases your risk of damaged tissue (gangrene) that may require amputation. People with peripheral artery disease also have an increased risk of heart attack or stroke. A visual of this process can be seen here.
When atherosclerosis narrows the long arteries of the legs, blood flow to the leg muscles becomes inadequate when the muscles are trying to work. Muscle pain, called intermittent claudication, can result. This typically comes on with exercise, and is relieved with rest.
Depending on the arteries affected and the location of the blockage(s), different muscle groups can be affected. Location examples of this include buttock and hip, thigh, calf (most common), and foot (less common).
However, pain can be atypical and therefore, attributed to something else. Some patients describe burning or numbness. There also can be severe blockages with no pain at all. Often this is because the body grows blood vessels that “bypass” the blockages, called collateral circulation.
Other signs and symptoms of peripheral artery disease to watch for can include wounds that heal poorly or don’t heal, legs that are cooler than arms, shiny skin or loss of hair on the legs, and decreased pulses in the feet. If you have any of these symptoms or know someone else who does, call us today for a free consultation with the one of our doctors to see how they can help.