Have you looked at your toenails recently and wondered why they look like they haven’t grown much in a while? You may be experiencing a relatively common symptom of peripheral artery disease (PAD), a condition that affects blood circulation in the arteries leading to your legs and feet. Because of this reduced circulation, peripheral artery disease can cause toenails to stop growing normally.
The only way to treat toenails with poor circulation caused by peripheral artery disease is to treat the PAD itself. If you suspect that peripheral artery disease is affecting your toenails or need more information on PAD, the expert vascular doctors at USA Vascular Centers can help. Our 40 outpatient PAD treatment centers in the United States are accredited by the Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care (AAAHC), certifying our dedication to the highest standards of patient care. Our certification also allows us to provide services to Medicare and Medicaid recipients.
How Does Peripheral Artery Disease Affect the Toenails?
Peripheral artery disease is marked by a lack of blood flow to the toes, and without proper blood flow, your nails can’t grow as they should. While there are other reasons for slow or nonexistent toenail growth, such as fungal infection, radiation treatments, and nail bed injuries, PAD can lead to more severe complications if not treated early.
PAD develops from plaque accumulation in the arteries leading to the feet and legs. Plaque is made up of calcium, cholesterol, fat, and other substances. Over time, this material tends to build up along the walls of the arteries, a process called atherosclerosis. Many people experience plaque buildup in the arteries, especially as they age. In fact, the CDC estimates that over 6.5 million Americans over age 40 currently live with PAD.
Plaque accumulation in the arteries means less space for blood to flow freely to the lower limbs. This loss of adequate blood flow to the toes affects more than just the toenails: A lack of circulation in the toes can cause seemingly minor wounds from ingrown toenails or small cuts to become more problematic than they should be.
This is because having toes with poor circulation means injuries heal more slowly or not at all. Wounds that don’t heal can cause tissue to die, resulting in gangrene. See a vascular doctor immediately if you have gangrene due to toenails impacted by peripheral artery disease. As with toenails that stop growing due to a lack of blood flow to the toes, gangrene may be a sign of moderate to advanced PAD.
Signs of Poor Circulation in the Toes
Poor circulation to your toenails means tissues aren’t getting enough oxygen or nutrients to stimulate new nail growth. This can cause the nails to become brittle, change color, or grow thicker.2, 3 If you experience these signs of peripheral artery disease-affected toenails, reach out to the vascular doctors at USA Vascular Centers. Our skilled physicians are experts in spotting signs of PAD and diagnosing the condition using ankle-brachial index (ABI) tests and angiograms. ABI tests measure and compare the blood pressure in the arm and ankle to assess for PAD, while angiograms allow our interventional radiologists to use contrast dye and X-ray imaging to find the exact location of a blockage.
If you receive a PAD diagnosis, don’t worry: There is treatment for poor circulation in the toes due to PAD. Our vascular doctors offer three nonsurgical PAD treatments at our state-of-the-art outpatient centers: angioplasty, stent placement, and atherectomy. These procedures are minimally invasive and don’t require stitches or a hospital stay.
Schedule a Consultation
Worried about a lack of circulation in your toes? Schedule an appointment online or call us at 888-773-2193 to start your treatment. Our highly recommended vascular doctors will be happy to answer your questions, put together a personalized treatment plan to help reduce your PAD symptoms, and lower your risk of serious complications. We look forward to helping you feel like yourself again.