What is Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD)?
Peripheral artery disease (PAD) is a serious medical condition, which affects the vascular system in the limbs, especially the legs and feet. PAD develops from plaque buildup, also known as atherosclerosis, which occurs when fats and cholesterol become hardened and attach to the arterial walls.
Peripheral artery disease is progressive and can cause symptoms, such as claudication or pain that begins during activity. You may also experience cramping and weakness in the legs, wounds that won’t heal, and temperature changes in one leg more than the other, especially in the later stages of the disease. If you notice any of these symptoms, you should seek treatment with USA Vascular Centers.
What are Compression Socks and Stockings?
Compression socks or stockings are socks that are designed to compress or squeeze the legs to improve circulation or prevent swelling. They are often prescribed by a doctor for certain conditions that affect the lower legs. Different types of compression stockings are available based on the needs of the patient.
Graduated compression stockings are tighter around the ankle and loosen as they move up the leg. They usually require a doctor’s prescription to purchase and need to be fitted to the patient to ensure they are tight enough but not too restrictive.
Anti-embolism stockings also have a graduated fit, which features a tighter fit at the ankles. These socks also require a prescription from a doctor and are usually recommended to prevent an embolism in patients who are immobile or have limited mobility. For example, an elderly person who cannot walk or someone who is paralyzed may need to wear these stockings to improve circulation.
The third type of compression stockings are non-medical socks. They don’t require a prescription and aren’t fitted for the individual. They have a constant fit throughout the stocking rather than the graduated fit of the other types.
Do Compression Socks Help Peripheral Artery Disease?
Compression stockings aren’t usually prescribed by a doctor for peripheral artery disease. They are most often recommended to help improve circulation and reduce swelling, such as what is found with edema and other conditions. Doctors may prescribe compression socks for certain symptoms in patients with diabetes, which is a risk factor for PAD. Other times, they may recommend that diabetics avoid wearing them and wear diabetic socks instead.
Compression socks fit tightly on the leg while diabetic socks are loose-fitting to avoid cutting off circulation to the lower legs and feet. Compression stockings help increase blood flow from the legs back to the heart while diabetic socks promote blood flow to the legs, which is also important with PAD.
Diabetic socks are the preferred choice if you have been diagnosed with diabetes and PAD. You shouldn’t wear compression stockings with peripheral artery disease, and wearing them if you have diabetes and PAD can be dangerous. These garments can exacerbate PAD symptoms by impeding already-limited circulation.
If you’re wondering if compression socks are good for PAD, the answer is typically no. It is best to avoid these garments if you have been diagnosed with peripheral artery disease.
Lifestyle, Diet and Medical Treatments That Can Reduce PAD Symptoms
Lifestyle and diet can’t cure PAD, but certain changes can alleviate the symptoms until treatment is pursued. If you have risk factors for PAD, such as diabetes, you can also make changes that can help reduce your risk.
Regular exercise is one of the best lifestyle changes you can incorporate into your routine to mitigate the risk for PAD and help alleviate symptoms temporarily if you have been diagnosed with the condition. It can improve circulation in the legs, which may reduce numbness and pain. Walking is the best exercise, allowing you to work to increase endurance by going a little further each day. You can do other activities you enjoy as well, such as biking and swimming.
Resting your legs after activity can help stop the pain temporarily, especially since claudication is pain that occurs during exercise. Monitor your feet and notice if any sores appear, or if any wounds are noticeably slower to heal.
Your diet directly impacts the buildup of fats and cholesterol in your arteries. Eating a healthy diet can help prevent further accumulation of plaque. Reducing your sodium intake can minimize swelling in the legs.
Avoid foods with high saturated fats since they can also add to plaque buildup. Examples include red meat, whole milk, and other dairy products. Along with reducing the amount of saturated fats you consume, you can also increase your fiber intake. Fiber attaches to the fats in your diet and pushes them through the system instead of allowing them to linger in your arteries where they can turn into plaque.
Medical treatments can help alleviate the symptoms of PAD and may prevent the disease from progressing. USA Vascular Centers provides treatments for peripheral artery disease, including the following:
- Angioplasty, a procedure where a vascular specialist inserts a tiny catheter into the affected artery and inflates a balloon on the tip to compress plaque buildup in the arteries.
- Stent placement, typically done in conjunction with angioplasty where a wire mesh stent is placed inside the artery to hold it open.
- Atherectomy, a procedure that requires the use of a tiny catheter that has a blade on the tip to scrape plaque from the walls of the artery.
A vascular specialist can recommend the best treatment option for your condition.
Request a Consultation with a Vascular Specialist
If you have symptoms of PAD or have been diagnosed with diabetes and are concerned about peripheral artery disease, don’t attempt to treat it on your own with compression stockings. Instead, schedule a consultation online or call USA Vascular Centers at 888.773.2193 to find out about treatment options that can help alleviate your symptoms. You can visit one of over 20 locations throughout the US to receive the care you need.