Foot Pain Can Be a Sign of Peripheral Artery Disease
Most of us will experience foot issues at some point in our lives. We rely on our feet for so many things! Namely to carry us around from place to place, to stand and run and dance and jump. Not to mention all the weight put on them every day.
Some causes of foot pain are common, such as ill-fitting shoes, prolonged periods of time spent on your feet or even a foot injury. But foot pain can also indicate the presence of an underlying health condition like Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD). This life and limb-threatening condition is caused by the restriction of blood flow in the arteries of the leg. When arteries become narrowed by plaque (the accumulation of cholesterol and other materials on the walls of the arteries), the oxygen-rich blood flowing through the arteries cannot reach the legs and feet.
If you have PAD (or suspect you might), it is even more critical to take care of your feet. Because blood flow is limited, common foot injuries and infections can cause serious problems for people living with PAD. And if you’ve recently been diagnosed with PAD, you need to pay more attention to your feet than you might be used to. Here are a few things to keep in mind so you can stay footloose and fancy-free.
Wash and Moisturize Your Feet Every Day
Your feet are one of several places on your body that are most prone to sweat, and they spend most of the day inside your socks. Washing your feet can help prevent infections from developing, so be extra thorough between your toes.
In addition to washing your feet daily, moisturizing is important, too. It’s almost inevitable that our feet will become exposed to bacteria, at least occasionally. Regular moisturizing will help to prevent cracks in your feet from creating openings into the body.
Be on the Alert For Foot Problems
Fungal infections are uncomfortable for anyone, but for people with PAD, they are a bigger deal. Even an ordinarily benign infection like athlete’s foot or nail fungus can open pathways for much more serious infections. Those infections can have an even greater impact when blood flow is limited.
While most people treat simple infections at home, if you suffer from PAD, it is important to consult a doctor about an infection as soon as possible. An expert will be able to offer the best treatment to eradicate the infection. You should also see a doctor for corns, bunions and anything unusual on your feet. A doctor will offer much greater care in treating these conditions, which could very well save you more trouble down the line.
Keep Toenails Trimmed
Nail care is important for everyone, but people living with PAD need to be extra careful when trimming their toenails. As with the rest of our tips, the goal here is to prevent the skin from breaking and creating a pathway into the body. Cut your nails regularly, but don’t cut them too short and always cut straight across to avoid ingrown toenails, which can allow bacteria to enter the body.
Buy The Right Shoes
Not all shoes are equal, and that holds doubly true for those with PAD. Poor-fitting shoes can rub feet uncomfortably and cause the skin to break at those pressure points. This is especially possible around the toenails, so pay extra attention there when choosing shoes.
And even in situations where you would normally go barefoot, those with PAD should keep their shoes on. Beaches, grass, pebbles and the gravel around your house are all common places for foot injuries. If you can’t live without walking through the grass barefoot, be extra careful where you are walking to prevent any cuts or scrapes that might happen.
Other Signs and Symptoms of PAD
Many people have no symptoms during the early stages of PAD. Often, by the time symptoms are noticed, the arteries are already significantly blocked.
Common symptoms of PAD beyond foot pain include:
- Leg pain (cramping) that occurs while walking (intermittent claudication)
- Leg pain (cramping) that occurs while lying down (rest pain)
- Leg numbness or weakness
- Cold legs or feet
- Sores that will not heal on toes, feet or legs
- A change in leg color
- Loss of hair on the feet and legs
- Changes in toenail color and thickness
If any of these symptoms are present, it is important to discuss them with a vascular specialist. Left untreated, PAD can lead to debilitating and limb-threatening consequences.
Check In With The Experts at Lam Vascular & Associates
If your PAD symptoms become lifestyle-limiting, we may recommend intervention. Lam Vascular & Associates offers laser atherectomy as well as balloon angioplasty and stenting. These procedures are minimally invasive and safely performed in The Lam Vascular Limb Salvage Center using state-of-the-art technology. This allows for a faster recovery and no overnight stay in most cases.
Dr. Russell Lam and his team of vascular experts are Dallas’ trusted resource for comprehensive vascular care. Our PAD Resources Portal has everything you need to know about this disease.
If you need us, we are here for you, with locations in Dallas, Rockwall, Arlington and Sunnyvale.