What’s Behind PAD?


Perhaps a better question to start with is what is PAD? It stands for peripheral arterial disease and at Florida Foot Health we want patients to be informed about this condition. Left untreated, it can have devastating consequences for your feet and legs.

PAD occurs when the arteries in the legs become narrowed or blocked by fatty deposits known as plaque. When plaque builds up, the arteries harden and narrow, reducing the blood flow to the legs and feet and causing poor circulation. It’s estimated that 8 to 12 million Americans have PAD. While it most commonly attacks arteries in the legs, it can also affect the arteries that go into the heart, brain, kidneys, stomach or arms. Without professional treatment, PAD can lead to heart attack, stroke and leg amputation.

Who’s at Risk?

Factors that increase your chances of developing PAD include:

  • Obesity

  • Being physically inactive

  • Smoking

  • Having one or more of the following: diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol

Symptoms and Treatment

A common symptom of PAD is a feeling of tiredness or pain in your legs, thighs or buttocks that occurs when you walk but goes away when you are at rest. Other symptoms include:

  • Toe or foot pain that wakes you up from sleep

  • Ulcers or wounds on your feet or toes that are extremely slow to heal (typically still open after 8 to 12 weeks)

It’s important to note that not all patients will experience these symptoms. If you are having any pain in your legs or thighs, make an appointment with your podiatrist as soon as possible. Don’t currently see a podiatrist? Use our online directory to find one near you.

The podiatrist can perform a simple test called an ankle-brachial index (ABI) which compares the blood pressure in your ankles with the blood pressure in your arm. If your ABI is abnormal, the foot doctor will likely order other tests to determine the severity of your PAD. A number of conservative and surgical treatment options are available along with lifestyle changes which can eliminate factors that increase your PAD risk.

To learn more about PAD and other conditions that affect the health of your feet and ankles, contact us.