The human body contains more than 60,000 miles of blood vessels, which ensure that your body circulates the oxygen and nutrients it needs. When there’s a problem with the vessels in your legs, which we group under peripheral vascular disease (PVD), you can be left with quality-of-life symptoms that range from mild to life-changing.
As a vascular expert, Dr. Kenneth Spearman and our team here at Central Coast Vein & Vascular understand the potential implications of peripheral vascular disease and we’re here to help. One of the first steps is better understanding what PVD is and how it presents itself.
With that in mind, here’s a look at some of the more common conditions that fall under PVD and how these symptoms can affect your legs.
Peripheral venous disease basics and types
PVD isn’t one disorder, but rather a collection of diseases that affect the blood vessels in your body, most often in your lower extremities including the legs and feet. The most common of these diseases include:
Superficial venous insufficiency
If you’ve developed spider or varicose veins, these are the most common results of superficial venous insufficiency, which affects between 30% and 50% of the US population. With superficial venous insufficiency, the one-way valves in the veins in your legs don’t close properly, which allows blood to pool, causing them to bulge or burst.
Peripheral artery disease (PAD)
PAD affects 21 million people in the United States and occurs when plaque build-up causes a narrowing of your blood vessels, which reduces blood flow to your limbs. Left untreated, PAD can progress to the point where you may develop wounds that won’t heal, which can lead to amputation.
Deep venous disease
If your veins have difficulty returning blood to your heart, they can become obstructed or compressed, which restricts blood flow to your legs and feet. This condition is often the precursor to deep vein thrombosis.
Deep vein thrombosis (DVT)
If a blood clot develops in one of the deep veins in your legs, it can lead to both immediate symptoms and long-term consequences. Fortunately, DVT is preventable with the right care.
Critical limb ischemia
A serious condition characterized by considerable blockages in the arteries in your lower extremities. Over 40% of people who are diagnosed with critical limb ischemia require amputation within six months of diagnosis.
Now that we have a better understanding of PVD, let’s take a look at how they affect your legs.
Symptoms of PVD
As with any medical issue, the sooner we’re able to identify a problem, the better we’re able to treat it, and this is certainly true of PVD. This means that recognizing the symptoms and scheduling an appointment with us for a screening are crucial. Here are common symptoms in order of progression and severity:
- Spider and varicose veins
- Swelling (edema)
- Skin changes, such as discolorations, rashes, or temperature changes
- Pain in your legs when active
- A dull ache, pain, or discomfort when you’re at rest
- Wounds that are slow to heal
In order to help guide the discussion with Dr. Spearman about the types of symptoms you are experiencing and how often these symptoms affect your quality of life, completing this questionaire (PVD and Me) before your appointment will provide details to better evaluate if you are at risk or have symptoms of PVD. When you come in, we perform a comprehensive screening and design a treatment program that addresses the underlying condition and your symptoms.
To get started, contact our office in Arroyo Grande, California, to schedule an appointment with Dr. Spearman for expert diagnosis and treatment of your leg symptoms and regain your quality of life.