The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine

Feet Don’t Lie: Peripheral Arterial Disease

Posted by on Thursday, July 19th, 2012


When is a foot problem not a foot problem? When the symptoms indicate a disease rooted in another part of your body–like peripheral arterial disease.

Let’s talk about the condition often called P.A.D.

Uh oh, Peripheral Arterial Disease? I don’t like anything that has a word that sounds like artery and the word disease in its name. You are right to be concerned. P.A.D. can best be described as poor circulation. If your arteries are narrowing, due to plaque buildup, it becomes hard for your blood to reach your feet.

What are the symptoms? Here are a few common P.A.D symptoms:

  • Cramps in your legs both while in motion and at rest
  • Numbness
  • Unusual coldness in your legs
  • Sores or cuts that heal more slowly than normal
  • A change in leg color (paleness)

Unfortunately, by the time these symptoms show up the condition is fairly advanced. In addition to consulting with a podiatrist at The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine (212.996.1900) to find out how to manage your foot symptoms, you should also talk to your regular doctor or a cardiologist; left untreated, narrowing arteries can lead to heart attacks and strokes.

What causes it? P.A.D. is most likely to occur in people over age 50 who smoke, are overweight, are not active, and have high cholesterol and high blood pressure. People who have diabetes may also be at risk. Anyone who has family members with a history of conditions like high cholesterol and high blood pressure may be more prone to P.A.D.

Okay, what do I do about it? Well, you have to treat the root cause first–the issues that are causing plaque to build up and narrow your arteries. This means lifestyle changes: lose weight, stop smoking, start exercising, eat healthier (vitamins such as niacin are particularly good for circulation). Sometimes doctors may put you on medication that will help lower your cholesterol or blood pressure.

Meanwhile, though, you have to manage the symptoms that are affecting your feet and lower legs, just as you would with diabetes. You should:

  • See your podiatrist on a regular basis as well as if you notice anything unusual about your feet.
  • Wash your feet daily and dry them carefully to avoid contracting any fungal infections.
  • Wear shoes and socks to protect your feet from cuts, scrapes, and bruises; poor circulation makes it harder for these to heal so it’s better to avoid them, so keep your feet protected–even indoors!
  • Check your feet every day for injuries and go see your podiatrist if you do have any cuts or wounds. These should be monitored.
  • Keep your toenails cut flat across the top of your nail to avoid ingrown toenails and scrapes from your nails.

Your feet are your friend here–they’re telling you that something else is wrong with your body that you need to take care of. Listen to your feet, then be a friend to them by taking care of them. And everyone’s happy.





If you have any foot problems or pain, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports MedicineDr. Josef J. GeldwertDr. Katherine Lai, Dr. Ryan Minara and Dr. Mariola Rivera have helped thousands of people get back on their feet. Unfortunately, we cannot give diagnoses or treatment advice online. Please make an appointment to see us if you live in the NY metropolitan area or seek out a podiatrist in your area.