For many patients, vascular conditions and chronic wounds affecting the legs and feet can be related. Coordinated care at Southwest Healthcare System can provide the comprehensive treatment approach that is needed.
Is your circulation working properly?
Your body relies on healthy blood flow to carry oxygen to your legs, feet and other parts of your body. When problems develop in your circulatory system, painful and sometimes serious health issues can result.
An example is peripheral artery disease (PAD), which occurs when plaque builds up in the arteries and restricts blood flow to the legs. If left untreated, PAD can cause pain in the legs and lead to wounds that do not heal, says Vascular Surgeon Yara Gorski, MD, FACS, who practices at Inland Valley Medical Center and Rancho Springs Medical Center. In severe cases, PAD may lead to amputation and also increase your risk of heart disease.
Another prevalent condition affecting the legs is “venous hypertension,” says Mazin A. Khateeb, MD, Medical Director of Wound Care at Inland Valley Medical Center. This occurs when valves in the veins are broken or leaking, so when a person stands, the blood pools down in the feet, causing ulcers and wounds. An ultrasound test can measure the amount of blood flow through the arteries and veins and identify if a vascular condition exists.
What are some treatment options?
Most vascular conditions in the legs are managed medically first to bring risk factors under control, Dr. Gorski says. In some cases, patients may only need monitoring, but if the condition doesn’t improve, intervention may be needed. To treat PAD, stents or balloon angioplasty may be used to open the artery and restore blood flow. Dr. Gorski notes that patients must also control their risk factors to prevent the problem from recurring (see box below).
A minimally invasive treatment for the veins may include “endovenous thermal ablation.” This procedure uses thermal energy to collapse damaged veins, so that blood is redirected to healthy veins.
To help heal wounds associated with vascular conditions, the Wound Care Program at Inland Valley offers a number of advanced treatments, including hyperbaric oxygen therapy. This treatment uses oxygen to promote healing and can be effective for select patients, including some people with diabetic foot ulcers, Dr. Khateeb says.
Dr. Gorski notes that the goal at Southwest is to treat the whole patient and coordinate care so that health issues can be addressed effectively and completely. “It’s a whole continuum of care,” she says.
Along with chronic wounds, other possible symptoms of PAD may include inability to perform daily activities, leg pain even at rest, and cramps or pain when walking. Sometimes, people may think the symptoms of PAD are just their body’s normal reaction to activity or age, but it’s important to tell your doctor if you’re feeling pain or discomfort.
Take steps to STAY HEALTHY
Risk factors that can contribute to vascular problems include smoking, high levels of cholesterol, high blood pressure, unchecked diabetes and lack of exercise. The National Institutes of Health notes that treatment for peripheral artery disease often includes the following heart-healthy lifestyle choices:
- Physical activity
- Quitting smoking
- Heart-healthy eating
To find a doctor who can help with a wound that is not healing or a possible vascular concern, please call our free physician referral service at 800-879-1020.
Individual results may vary. There are risks associated with any surgical procedure. Talk with your doctor about these risks to find out if minimally invasive surgery is right for you.