What is Peripheral Vascular Disease (PVD)?

PVD is a broad term to describe a disorder in blood circulation. In Diabetes, peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD) occurs when there is plaque build-up in the blood vessels that bring oxygen and nutrients from your heart, to your legs. Our vessels are hollow tubes, and the smooth lining within these tubes prevent clotting and clogging of blood, promoting a nice steady flow.

With PAD, plaques (made from fat, cholesterol, and other substances), bulidup within the opening and result in narrowing of the vessel. Furthermore, blood clots can form around these plaques, narrowing the vessel even more When vessels are blocked from these plaques, blood flow is restricted, and blood cannot be delivered to the tissues, resulting in tissue damage and eventually, tissue death (gangrene).

Some of the risk factors include – but are not limited to:

  • Diabetes
  • Comorbidities (such as heart disease, hypertension, high cholesterol, previous stroke, kidney disease)
  • Smoking
  • Obesity
  • Age over 50

What will I experience?

PAD builds up over your lifetime, but your symptoms may only be noticeable later on in life.

The first early symptoms may be a condition called intermittent claudication. A condition where muscles of your leg experience discomfort, cramping or pain, that:

  • Has its onset with activity
  • Goes away with rest
  • Comes back when activity is resumed

The cyclical nature of this condition is due to reduced blood flow of your legs. Discomfort and pain generally goes away at rest because of the reduced demand for blood at rest. This can progress to be severe enough to affect your activities of daily living.

As PAD becomes more advanced, you may start to experience:

  • Burning or intense pain in your feet and toes, especially at night or when lying flat. Symptoms may resolve with hanging your legs over the bed
  • Cool temperature of your toes
  • Colour changes of your skin
  • Numbness and Tingling
  • Ulcers or wounds that take a long time to heal
  • Thin and atrophic skin
  • Weakened or absence of pulses

Usually, PAD which is severe can cause non-healing of wounds and ulcers. Progression of this may eventually result in gangrene and usually at this stage, amputation will be required.

How can we help you?

Early diagnosis and treatment by your Podiatrist is that first step to having optimal outcomes and a successful treatment. This can prevent many foot related and life-threatening complications.

In patients with PAD, the pain goal of your Podiatrist is to work with you and help you prevent complications and the need for any drastic management such as amputations. However, in the case that amputation has already taken place, our Podiatrist will focus on maintaining your foot health, and prevent any need for additional amputations.

Generally, our Podiatrist is able to help with:

  • Diagnosis and evaluation of your foot condition
  • Specific and professional care for feet at high risk of developing wounds and ulcers
  • Safe and specialised wound care and management
  • Post-amputation wound care

Delayed diagnosis and identification has a possibility to develop severe complications. In severe cases, your Podiatrist will refer you onto further specialist intervention in a timely manner to prevent further deterioration.

It is imperative to know, that the sudden development of a pale, painful and cold limb, with the absence of pulses is a serious medical emergency, which will need to be referred to a vascular specialist for assessment immediately. Loss of perfusion to any part of the body, or limb, can result in significant damage to the area.

If you suspect that you, or your loved ones may require help from our Podiatrist, please do not hesitate to contact us so we may help you!