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How Peripheral Artery Disease Impacts the Feet

Tuesday, 12 March 2024 00:00

Peripheral artery disease, PAD, is a circulatory condition that significantly impairs the flow of blood to the extremities, particularly the feet. PAD can pose serious health risks and include symptoms that can drastically affect daily living. This condition results from the accumulation of fatty deposits in the arteries, causing them to narrow. This also causes a reduction in blood supply. People with PAD may experience various symptoms in their feet, including a notable decrease in temperature compared to the rest of the body, a change in skin color to a pale or bluish hue, diminished hair growth, delayed wound healing, and sores. Furthermore, PAD can lead to pain or cramping in the lower limbs during physical activities. This typically subsides with rest. The risks of PAD go beyond discomfort because the decreased blood flow heightens the risk of infection. Severe cases can lead to gangrene and the possibility of amputation. If you are suffering from PAD, it is suggested you seek the help of a podiatrist, or foot doctor, who can provide a personalized treatment plan and address any foot-related concerns. 

Peripheral artery disease can pose a serious risk to your health. It can increase the risk of stroke and heart attack. If you have symptoms of peripheral artery disease, consult with Dr. Ronald K. Olm from Grand Traverse Foot & Ankle Center. Our doctor will assess your condition and provide you with quality foot and ankle treatment.

Peripheral artery disease (PAD) is when arteries are constricted due to plaque (fatty deposits) build-up. This results in less blood flow to the legs and other extremities. The main cause of PAD is atherosclerosis, in which plaque builds up in the arteries.


Symptoms of PAD include:

  • Claudication (leg pain from walking)
  • Numbness in legs
  • Decrease in growth of leg hair and toenails
  • Paleness of the skin
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Sores and wounds on legs and feet that won’t heal
  • Coldness in one leg

It is important to note that a majority of individuals never show any symptoms of PAD.


While PAD occurs in the legs and arteries, Podiatrists can diagnose PAD. Podiatrists utilize a test called an ankle-brachial index (ABI). An ABI test compares blood pressure in your arm to you ankle to see if any abnormality occurs. Ultrasound and imaging devices may also be used.


Fortunately, lifestyle changes such as maintaining a healthy diet, exercising, managing cholesterol and blood sugar levels, and quitting smoking, can all treat PAD. Medications that prevent clots from occurring can be prescribed. Finally, in some cases, surgery may be recommended.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact one of our offices located in Traverse City and Kalkaska, MI . We offer the newest diagnostic and treatment technologies for all your foot care needs.

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