Peripheral vascular disease is the medical term used for poor circulation. Proper blood flow is an indispensable requisition for a healthy life. The right amount of blood flow is needed for various bodily functions like movement of the limbs, functioning of various organs, etc.

The Most Common Cause of Peripheral Vascular Disease

The most common cause of this is atherosclerosis ("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). Diseases like diabetes, kidney problems, lung and liver diseases, thyroid problems, lack of exercise, obesity, smoking, high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels, etc., can lead to peripheral vascular disease

Symptoms of Peripheral Vascular Disease:

1. Claudication : the early stages of this condition is characterized by cramping and pain in the legs, buttocks or feet. The pain and cramping subsides with rest, but will recur as you indulge in the normal day-to-day activities 2. Numbness or tingling in the foot, or toes can occur.
3. Changes in the color of the skin (it becomes more pale, bluish, or reddish).
4. Changes in skin temperature. You may experience frequent cold feet, which is considered as a symbol of slow blood circulation to your feet. Cold feet is more commonly experienced at night before sleep, after having certain foods or during periods of immobility 5. Skin breakdowns, infection and sores do not heal as well as they should.

How is it Diagnosed

Your doctor will perform a thorough physical exam. Your doctor may also want to get some tests that will help show exactly how poor the blood flow in your arteries and veins and whether there might be a blockage in your blood vessels.

Treatment for Peripheral Vascular Disease:

Poor circulation to the legs and feet can be an indication of some other serious health problem. Treatment for poor circulation in the legs and feet includes drugs that prevent blood clotting, angioplasty to open up the blocked arteries, using a vein from some other body part to bypass the blocked artery, medications to control the blood sugar level, etc. Some lifestyle changes like, stopping smoking, regular exercises, lowering high blood pressure and cholesterol, can be helpful in preventing poor circulation in the foot, and for getting relief from the symptoms of the condition. Also graduated compression hosiery and socks can be very useful in helping relieve the symptoms from this condition.

Take care to stay warm and avoid being immobile for longer periods of time. Poor circulation in the legs and feet are something that seems very minor, but should not be ignored if the problem persists. It the above mentioned symptoms are prevalent for a long period of time, make sure you get in touch with your doctor for the required treatment.

Robert Kosofsky, D.P.M.
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Dr. Robert Kosofsky has over 25 years of experience treating patients in our Hillsborough & Piscataway offices