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Fighting For Your Legs

By  Dr. Gary M. Ansel

(Page 2 of 3)

Knowing the Difference

For senior citizens, itís not out of the ordinary to have some leg pain after a long and vigorous walk. However, when pain and cramping exist after short walks or mild activity, it could be an indication that there are blockages within the peripheral arteries.

Early detection of PAD is essential to maintaining a high quality of life for those afflicted with PAD. Below is a list of warning signs and symptoms that should be monitored closely:

  • Fatigue or cramping in the leg muscles (known as claudication) when walking

  • Pain in the legs, buttocks and/or feet that disturbs sleep

  • Wounds on toes, feet or legs that heal slowly, poorly, or not at all

  • Color changes in the skin of the feet (paleness or blueness)

  • A lower temperature in one leg when compared to the other leg

  • Poor nail growth and decreased hair growth on toes and legs

Seeing Your Doctor

Two of the most common methods used to test patients for PAD are the ankle-brachial index (ABI) and the Doppler ultrasound test. The ABI is a noninvasive, painless, and reliable test that works by comparing blood pressure in the ankles and arms. An ABI test is useful in determining if someone has PAD, but cannot locate the blocked artery. The Doppler test, which is also noninvasive, manipulates sound waves to evaluate blood flow in lower extremities, often locating the blockage.

Getting Treated

Treatment for mild PAD is largely behavioral, as the condition can be mitigated with a regimen of walking, a low cholesterol diet for diabetics, cessation of smoking and, in some cases, medication. For severe PAD, however, treatment may require an invasive bypass surgery or angioplasty.

 

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