Treatment for peripheral artery disease (PAD) does more than relieve leg pain. Early treatment prevents infections and gangrene that lead to severe complications and possibly the need for a lower leg amputation.
As a vascular specialist, Kishore Arcot, MD, FACC, at Memphis Vein Center performs in-office diagnostics to identify PAD and determine the severity of the condition. He offers a range of customized treatments based on your vascular disease.
PAD facts and symptoms
PAD begins when cholesterol sticks to an artery wall in your leg. Over time, more fat accumulates in the same spot and calcium joins in, making the area harden. This condition, called atherosclerosis, keeps enlarging, progressively blocking blood flow through the artery.
Eventually the blood supply is so restricted that tissues can’t get enough oxygen. That’s when symptoms begin.
Not everyone has symptoms, but if you do, seek help right away. The range of PAD symptoms includes:
Leg pain when active
The earliest sign of PAD is leg pain when you’re active. When you walk, climb stairs, or run, your leg muscles need extra oxygen. Without enough blood getting through the artery, the muscles run out of oxygen and start to ache or cramp.
At this stage, your leg pain improves when you rest. As the plaque enlarges and blocks more blood, you end up with leg and foot pain even when you’re relaxing.
PAD frequently causes changes in the affected leg, such as:
- Poor hair growth
- Shiny skin
- Poor toenail growth
- One foot colder than the other
- Pale, blue, or discolored skin
- Muscle weakness or numbness
You could also develop tingling (pins and needles sensation) in your leg or foot.
One in four people have the symptoms listed above. If you don’t develop those symptoms, the first sign of PAD may be an open sore on your lower leg, often near your ankle.
Tissues die when they don’t get enough blood and oxygen, and then an open wound develops. These ulcers can’t heal on their own, so they keep enlarging.
Without intensive wound care, arterial ulcers cause skin and bone infections and gangrene, possibly resulting in an amputation.
We specialize in several safe, effective PAD treatments. The one that’s best for you depends on the size of the plaque and the amount of blood that’s blocked.
If you have a leg ulcer, we provide advanced wound care to promote healing, while also performing treatments to restore healthy circulation through the artery.
We may recommend one of the following PAD treatments:
In the early stages, you can stop the progression of atherosclerosis by following a healthy diet, getting more exercise, losing weight, and giving up smoking.
You may need medications to prevent blood clots or treat the chronic conditions that contribute to atherosclerosis, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes.
Minimally invasive procedures
When the blockage is severe, we restore normal circulation with a minimally invasive procedure.
The following procedures remove the blockage using a tiny opening in your skin that’s just large enough to insert a catheter (long, narrow tube) and guide it through your blood vessels to the blockage. At the blockage, we deploy specialized instruments to remove the plaque.
You may need one of the following:
Angioplasty and stenting
We inflate a balloon that pushes the plaque back against the artery wall. In most cases, we also implant a mesh stent that stays in the artery after removing the balloon. The stent keeps the artery open and prevents plaque from developing down the road.
We perform an atherectomy if the plaque is too hard to be pushed away with a balloon. During an atherectomy, we may use a device that shaves or grinds the plaque, or a laser that destroys the blockage.
You may need bypass surgery if you have severe pain or advanced arterial ulcers, or to save your leg or foot. During this procedure, we remove a small piece of a blood vessel from elsewhere in your body and implant it in your leg, using it to divert blood around the blocked artery.
Don’t wait to call us at Memphis Vein Center in Memphis, Tennessee, or book an appointment online if you’re worried about leg symptoms or need exceptional PAD treatment.