Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD) is a condition that affects blood flow in the legs due to fat and cholesterol buildup. This condition specifically targets arteries. Your arteries are critical in transporting oxygen and nutrient-rich blood to body tissues. Arteries have a specialized hollow shape with smooth lining. This shape allows steady blood flow and prevents blood from clotting. Patients with peripheral arterial disease have plaque inside the walls of their arteries. This plaque is called atherosclerosis. This condition causes arterial narrowing and blocking. Seeking medical intervention for peripheral vascular disease Englewood Cliffs is critical to restoring wellness in your legs and eliminating the risk for potential complications like tissue damage and death.
What are the stages of peripheral artery disease?
Most patients with peripheral arterial disease experience pain in their legs and arms, especially during movements. Pain that worsens when walking or exercising is called claudication. The main cause of this pain is insufficient oxygen in peripheral tissues due to arterial blockage. Patients with this disease can also experience slow-healing sores and wounds. The severe peripheral arterial disease causes sores to develop into dead tissue called gangrene, which may necessitate foot or leg removal.
Your healthcare provider will need to assign a stage to your peripheral arterial disease to determine the severity of your condition. An accurate diagnosis will influence treatment efficacy and promote desired clinical outcomes. Fontaine and Rutherford are the two popular systems physicians implement as diagnosis protocols for peripheral artery disease. Fontaine stages of peripheral arterial disease are:
- Asymptomatic: This stage does not involve any symptoms.
- Mild claudication: This symptom involves peripheral pain during exercises. This pain gets better with rest.
- Ischemic rest pain: Patients in this stage of peripheral arterial disease experience pain in their legs and arms even at rest.
- Ulcers or gangrene: This stage involves the development of ulcers and slow-healing sores that turn into dead tissue.
What are the symptoms of peripheral artery disease?
The symptoms of your peripheral arterial disease will depend on which stage of the disease you are experiencing. Typical symptoms of peripheral arterial disease include:
- Burning or aching pain in your legs and arms, especially when lying flat
- Cold feet
- Redness or changing color on your skin
- Frequent soft tissue infections
- Slow-healing toe and foot sores.
Most people do not experience symptoms in the initial stages of peripheral arterial disease. However, you should seek emergency intervention when you notice any peripheral complications associated with the disease. Early intervention enhances treatment efficacy and eliminates the risk of severities.
Risk factors for peripheral artery disease
The most potent risk factor for peripheral vascular disease is using tobacco products. Other risk factors of the disease include having diabetes, being above 50 years, having high cholesterol and high blood pressure, being overweight, and having a blood clotting disorder. It would help if you committed to regular wellness exams where your doctor will review your lifestyle and underlying health problems that may put you at risk of developing peripheral artery disease. Contact University Pain and Spine Center to determine your risk of peripheral arterial disease and begin preventative treatment to preserve your peripheral health.