What is Peripheral Vascular Disease?

Peripheral vascular disease is the medical name given to a group of problems that causes poor circulation to the feet and legs. The most common cause of this is arteriosclerosis (“hardening of the arteries”) in which there is a gradual thickening and hardening of the walls of the arteries (the blood vessels that bring blood to the extremities from the heart).

Diabetes is the most common cause of peripheral vascular disease.

What causes Peripheral Vascular Disease?

Poor circulation is most commonly caused by a progressive blocking of the arteries in the leg (athersclerosis). Those with diabetes are more likely to develop poor circulation to the foot. Other risk factors for developing poor circulation include a lack of physical activity,smoking, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

The following are symptoms of Peripheral Vascular Disease?

The symptoms that are experienced can depend on which artery is affected and how much the blood flow is reduced.

Some of the symptoms include:

  • Claudication (this is a dull cramping pain in the calf muscle that comes on after walking a certain distance – it is relieved by rest).
  • Numbness or tingling in the foot, or toes can occur.
  • Changes in the color of the skin (it becomes more pale, bluish, or reddish).
  • Changes in skin temperature (the foot becomes cooler. See cold feet).
  • Skin breakdowns, infection and sores do not heal as well as they should.

The biggest affect of poor circulation on the foot, particularly with Diabetes, is that its problems (such as sores, infections, cuts, etc) develop, they do not heal as well as they should. The reason for this is that the blood carries vital elements (eg oxygen) that the bodies tissues need for vitality and healing. Special care is needed to prevent problems from developing as well. This care includes:

  • Preventing trauma and accidents (eg wearing shoes to prevent trauma)
  • Wearing footwear that is well fitted and not causing any pressure areas.
  • Seeking professional help from a podiatrist for the cutting of toe nail (any accidents from self care here may prove to be costly)
  • Corns and calluses need treatment. If they are allowed to progress the skin may break down and sores may develop beneath them and prove difficult to heal.

How can we help you?

  • A thorough assessment of the circulation of your foot (includes doppler assessment of the circulation of your big toe and main arteries in relation to your normal arm pressure)
  • A yearly reassessment of your circulation.
  • Footcare advice regarding the risks and complications that your foot could develop.
    Advice on fitting footwear.
  • Care of toenail, corns, calluses and other foot conditions.
  • Management of any wounds, sores, infections that may develop as the result of poor circulation.

See Foot Care for daily tips for good foot health

To make an appointment for any of the above conditions, please call us… or send an enquiry e-mail

To read more about various foot conditions, please click here