You might think that your feet aren’t directly related to your heart – after all, they’re so far away from each other, right? But your foot pain could actually be indicating a serious circulatory complication called peripheral artery disease (PAD).
If you have constant foot pain that interferes with your daily life, then it is in your best interest to have a medical evaluation to find out what may be causing it – and to find a solution to finally help relieve that pain in your foot. Let’s talk about how a heart and circulatory issue can cause foot pain, and where you can go in Dover and the West Jersey area for outstanding orthopedic treatment.
How Peripheral Artery Disease Can Cause Foot Pain
Peripheral artery disease usually occurs when fatty plaque builds up in the arteries which lead from your heart to your extremities, especially your feet. This buildup causes the vessels to become narrow, which can result in reduced blood flow. This condition is called atherosclerosis, or “hardening of the arteries,” which can lead to foot pain.
But in some cases, PAD can also be caused by inflamed blood vessels, exposure to radiation, or injury to the limb.
What Are the Symptoms of PAD?
The most common symptoms of PAD include the following:
- Painful cramping in the feet, legs, or hips, especially after engaging in certain activities such as walking (this cause of leg pain is called claudication)
- Numbness, weakness, tingling, or coldness in the legs or feet
- Swelling in the feet
- Weakness or reduced pulse in the feet
- Sores that heal poorly on the legs and feet
- Reduced hair growth on the legs
- Weak pulse in the feet or legs
Left untreated, PAD can put you at serious risk of suffering a stroke or heart attack. Severe claudication could cause debilitating foot pain and leg pain that impedes your ability to walk. In critical cases, PAD could even necessitate the loss of a limb (amputation) due to inadequate circulation.
How Is Peripheral Artery Disease Diagnosed?
Diagnosis for PAD is usually simple and noninvasive. This includes:
- Checking Your Pulse – A trained physician will easily detect two pulses in your feet, and they can usually identify whether the blood flow to your feet is normal. A simple physical exam will tell them if your arteries are clogged.
- Ankle-Brachial Index – This is the most common test used to screen for PAD. Your doctor will use a blood pressure cuff and ultrasound device to get a blood pressure reading in your ankle area. Then, they will compare that with the blood pressure in your arm – these numbers should essentially match. This test allows the doctor to detect any abnormalities in your blood flow.
- Ultrasound – This allows your doctor to detect narrowed or blocked arteries. Your doctor may use special ultrasound imaging techniques, such as Doppler ultrasound.
- Angiogram – With this diagnostic test, your doctor will inject a dye into your blood vessels and track how blood flows through your arteries. An imaging technology such as X-ray or MRI will be used to follow the dye through your arteries.
- Catheter Angiogram – This invasive diagnostic procedure involves your doctor guiding a tiny catheter through an artery in your groin. A contrast dye is then injected so that the doctor can view via X-ray any blockages in your artery. During this procedure, the doctor can also perform a treatment called an angioplasty to open up the blocked artery.
Foot Pain Treatment in Dover, NJ
The good news is that PAD can be treated and even prevented with simple lifestyle changes and medications. Eating a healthy diet, staying hydrated, and maintaining a consistent level of exercise will help decrease your risk of heart and circulatory issues.
If you are experiencing chronic or intermittent foot pain, however mild or severe, our medical specialists at Orthopedic Associates of West Jersey can provide an accurate diagnosis and deliver individualized care for you. If you have any questions or would like to schedule an appointment, contact us today by calling us at (973) 989-0888 or by filling out our appointment request form online now. We look forward to serving you!