November was Diabetes Awareness Month. Awareness of this disease is key to prevent long-term catastrophic complications that may result in ulcers, infections, amputations and even death. There are many complications that are associated with the disease; however, with the appropriate awareness and prompt treatment, many of these devastating complications can be avoided. One complication is peripheral arterial disease, otherwise known as PAD. PAD is when the blood vessels in the feet and legs become narrowed due to a fatty build up. This then causes a decreased blood flow to your lower extremity. When tissue does not receive adequate blood flow it dies and becomes nonviable. It is important to make sure your lower extremity is receiving adequate blood flow.
Symptoms of PAD may include:
- Leg pain that while walking or resting
- Numbness or weakness
- Cold legs and/or feet
- Loss of hair on the legs and feet
- Toenail color changes
Although diabetes mellitus is a major contributing factor to developing PAD, there are many other risk factors that will further increase your risk for developing the disease. Some of these risk factors include smoking, hypertension, family history, obesity, high cholesterol, history of heart disease, and being over the age of 50.
PAD can cause serious lower extremity issues and either hinder healing or cause of current foot problems. Due to decreased blood flow it is difficult for ulcers, blisters, and cuts to heal. Not to mention that previously healthy toes may be come dead or necrotic without an open wound solely based on poor blood supply. This condition is called gangrene and starts on the tips of the toes will extend towards the body.
Ways to improve symptoms of PAD include smoking cessation, good glycemic control, and controlling your blood pressure and cholesterol. A referral to a vascular surgeon may be appropriate depending on the extent of the disease and a recommendation by your doctor.
Awareness of diabetes and all of the different complications is key to prevention. For more information on diabetes please visit Sole Foot and Ankle – November Blogs. If you notice any changes in your foot health please consider making an appointment with Dr. Jay C. Larson at Sole Foot and Ankle Specialists in Glendale, Arizona.