Podiatrist in San Leandro, CA
Foot Doctor of the East Bay
1300 Bancroft Ave
San Leandro, CA 94577
(510) 483-3390
(510) 394-6402 fax
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Most of us have had this experience—you’re running a little late for an event, and the section of highway you’re on has one or more lanes closed due to an accident or construction. Although the road is technically still navigable, fewer lanes mean a significant reduction in the amount of traffic that can pass through the affected area in a given time frame. Peripheral artery disease (PAD) causes a similar thing to happen in your circulatory system.

Your arteries are highways for oxygen-carrying blood vessels, and they can be affected by “lane closures,” too. When arteries harden, the inner tube through which blood flows becomes narrower—the medical term for it is atherosclerosis. The most direct causes include obesity, high blood pressure (hypertension), high cholesterol, smoking, and inactivity. More rarely, PAD can develop as a result of injury, structural defects in your muscles and ligaments, or exposure to radiation. People with diabetes are especially at risk and may have a harder time controlling or managing the symptoms.

Road Work Ahead - Symptoms and Complications

Because the longest arteries in the body are located in the legs, peripheral artery disease symptoms are often most prevalent in the feet and legs, as the constricted blood flow can’t provide enough oxygen to the muscles. Typical symptoms include cramping (especially after walking or other activities), numbness or burning sensations, and muscle weakness. Your skin may be shiny or cool to the touch, and you may notice hair and nails growing more slowly than normal.

If left unchecked, PAD can lead to a lot more than just cramping, weakness, and pain. The same arterial hardening that first made itself known in your legs can happen elsewhere in your body—namely, in arteries feeding the heart and brain, greatly increasing your risk of heart attack and stroke. Reduced blood flow to the legs also means injuries take longer to heal. Open wounds can fester and kill tissue, and may even force amputation. Narrower arteries also increase the risk that a clot will completely block all blood flow. That’s why it’s so important to seek help as soon as symptoms appear.

Repairs Under Way - Treatment

At Foot Doctor of the East Bay, we can test for signs or symptoms of peripheral artery disease (as well as related conditions or risk factors) using a number of simple tests. These may include a physical examination, ultrasound, taking comparing blood pressure in different parts of your body (say, arm vs. ankle), and blood tests.

The good news is that, for many people, PAD symptoms be reduced or even eliminated simply by modifying lifestyle and making healthier choices. If you smoke, quitting is the single best thing you can do to improve symptoms. Beyond that, regular exercise, losing weight, and eating a healthy diet are all highly beneficial. In fact, it might be all you need.

Sometimes, however, lifestyle changes will not be enough to eliminate symptoms or stop the progression of atherosclerosis in your body, especially if you still struggle with high blood pressure, cholesterol, or diabetes. Your physician may prescribe medications to help you manage those conditions. Drugs that relieve pain or prevent blood clotting may also be recommended.

In the worst cases, a surgical procedure may be necessary. These may include bypass surgery (which reroutes the blood flow along a “detour” route around the constricted vessel) or angioplasty (in which a small balloon is inserted and inflated to reopen and stretch the artery).

If you are suffering from PAD, remember that you will need to be vigilant in observing and taking care of your feet due to the risk of infection. Wash, dry, and moisturize every day, always wear clean and dry socks and shoes, and call us at the first sign of injury or a sore.

Hiring the Right Construction Crew

If you’re concerned about peripheral artery disease and need help with diagnosis, treatment, regular foot care, or any other reason, give Foot Doctor of the East Bay a call at (510) 483-3390. Our experts, Dr. Michael Stein and Zeindelin Ahmad, DPM, serve the entire Bay Area with three convenient locations, and will make sure you get the highest quality care. 

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