People suffering from diabetes are prone to many other health problems. One of them is a foot problem. If the blood sugar level is high for prolonged periods, it can wreak havoc on many body parts including the feet. The two main conditions that are responsible for foot problems are Peripheral vascular disease (PVD) and Peripheral neuropathy (PN). Let us look at PVD in detail here.
It is a disorder of blood circulation that leads to narrowing of blood vessels outside of your heart and brain. As the blood vessels become narrow, the blood flow to the body parts decreases. According to research, PVD is 20 times more prevalent in people with diabetes than in non-diabetic people. In diabetic people, prolonged high blood sugar level raises the risk of developing PVD. Longstanding high blood sugar can damage blood vessels, decreasing blood flow to the foot. This poor circulation can weaken the skin, contribute to the formation of ulcers, and impair wound healing. Other risk factors that may cause PVD are smoking, obesity, inactivity and high cholesterol levels.
One of the first symptoms of the PVD is cramping leg pain during walking. Most commonly this affects your calf muscles. However it can occur in the thigh or hip muscles too.
As the disease progresses, leg or feet pain occurs even when you are not walking. This is known as “Rest pain” and is a symptom of critical limb ischaemia.
Another symptom of PVD is that the small cuts or abrasions on the feet that do not heel easily.
PVD can eventually become a very serious problem if not treated timely. It can lead to the development of foot ulcers and gangrene and may require amputation of the leg.
Diagnostic tests can include:
Treatment and management of PVD may include:
For some people with severe vascular disease, invasive therapy such as balloon angioplasty or stent insertion may be considered. Bypass graft would also be an option.
About The Author
Dr. Sanjay Sharma MS – General Surgery, (FAGE), FICA, FIPA, RxDx.