Peripheral Artery Disease - Foot Pain That Can Kill You

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Houston podiatrist tests diabetics for peripheral artery disease with smart ABIWhen we think of foot pain, we often consider an injury. Often a tendon or ligament becomes inflamed, which is the case in heel pain and Achilles tendon injuries. Sometimes pain is due to trauma that leads to a foot fracture or sprain. Other times pain can be for neither of these reasons. It is those cases where we have to be concerned about Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD).

PAD is when there is a restriction of blood flow into the lower extremity. Because the blood carries oxygen to the tissue, a restriction of blood flow will deprive the tissues of the oxygen they need. Toxins that are the byproduct of physiology remain in the tissues, rather than transported away by good blood flow. Oxygen deprivation causes the tissues to scream out in pain.

There are several factors that increase your risk for developing PAD. Everyone over age 50 is at a higher risk for developing PAD, but that risk is increased if you are a smoker, have diabetes, high blood pressure, or high cholesterol. African Americans are at greater risk of developing PAD. You are also at greater risk if you have had, or have a family history of, heart disease, a heart attack, or a stroke.

Many times, those suffering from PAD do not realize that their circulation is a problem. They instead think that their legs or feet are painful after walking a few blocks. The pain goes away with rest, but turns after walking for a short while. This condition, known as intermittent claudication, is a warning sign of PAD. As the circulation worsens, the pain can occur when you are not walking. In fact, the pain can wake you up at night and will not improve until you stand, allowing gravity to help the blood get down the lower extremity.

The screening for PAD is a simple one. As a foot doctor in Houston, I feel that it is vitally important to identify PAD as early as possible. Left untreated, PAD can cause gangrene, which leads to amputation. PAD dramatically increases the risk of heart disease and stroke as well. Our Houston podiatry office uses a system called Smart ABI to identify PAD.

Smart ABI is a non-invasive 3 minute evaluation done in our office to diagnose Peripheral Artery Disease. A series of pressures are taken at different levels of the leg and compared to the blood pressure in the arms. It is evaluated by Dr. Schneider to provide an accurate diagnosis. If treatment is recommended, the report will be sent to your cardiologist or you will be given a referral to a circulation specialist.

We are committed to ensuring that your feet last a lifetime. Peripheral Artery Disease is a silent killer. Don't let PAD put your life at risk. Contact our Houston office to schedule a screening for PAD.

Dr. Andrew Schneider
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Dr. Andrew Schneider is a podiatrist and foot surgeon at Tanglewood Foot Specialists in Houston, TX.