Peripheral Artery Disease is a circulatory problem where fatty and calcium deposits accrue inside the walls of the arteries in your limbs. As a result, the passageway in which the blood flows is narrowed. Overtime the quantity of blood traveling through the narrowed region may be decreased, depriving the receiving muscle of due oxygen. The oxygen-starved muscle then causes pain to the patient, commonly occurring in the lower legs. Naturally, a muscle’s need for oxygen increases with activity, hence why walking often exacerbates the pain in a patient with PAD.
Another common side-effect to diminished blood supply in your legs is a faint pulse typically palpated in the inside of your heel.
There are several factors that may be contributing to your leg pain; PAD is only one of the possibilities. Only a physical consultation with the aid of a few diagnostic imaging tests like an arterial Doppler, will help your physician determine the exact cause of your leg pain.
The treatment for Peripheral Artery Disease varies depending on symptoms, location, and severity. A good rule of thumb for prevention of PAD is a healthy and balanced diet. Smoking advances the presence of PAD, therefore cessation is strongly recommended and beneficial.
In a more progressed case of PAD your physician may discuss other treatment options with you. Again, symptoms, location, and severity are some of the factors taken into consideration when deciding which treatment option is right for you. Some examples of these possible options are arteriography, angioplasty with or without stent placement, or bypass graft. Below is a brief non-conclusive description of the mentioned procedures:
Arteriography: a minimally invasive imaging modality used to obtain more precise and in-depth information about the disease state in your lower extremity arteries, may be suggested based on the findings detected with an arterial Doppler. *
Angioplasty: a procedure where a small needle is inserted through a vessel in your groin with an inflatable balloon at the tip of a flexible wire. The wire is advanced to the area of stenosis in the vessel then inflated to expand the passageway for blood flow. *
Stent placement: During an angioplasty and wire or mesh stent is place at the tip of the balloon-catheter wire, advanced to the area of stenosis in the vessel then inflated leaving the stent in place to keep the artery open.*
Bypass graft: Similar to coronary bypass graft, the surgeon will use a man-made graft or a portion of one of your veins to redirect the route of the blood flow when the original pathway in a vessel is completely obstructed. *
* Your physician will discuss benefits and risks with you in further detail as this may vary slightly based on your individual pre-existing condition