What is Peripheral Artery Disease and Can Compression Be a Good Solution?

Posted by Shannon on Aug 15th 2022

September 13, 2022

What is Peripheral Artery Disease and Can Compression Be a Good Solution?

Peripheral artery disease is a condition where the arteries are narrowed, reducing blood flow to the extremities.

Man grabbing leg in pain
Infographic of Peripheral Artery Disease

Why is This a Concern?

If someone has peripheral artery disease the concern is actually two-fold. The first concern to the disease is that when blood flow is reduced, there is not enough blood and oxygen reaching the extremities, most specifically the legs. Without adequate blood and oxygen, you may experience pain, most specifically in the legs, and especially while walking. Pain during movement can and will restrict mobility, reducing your quality of life.
The second area of concern is actually the likely cause of the peripheral artery disease—a buildup of fatty deposits in the arteries, called atherosclerosis.

Who is at Risk?

There are several conditions and lifestyles that put a person at a higher risk for acquiring PAD. Patients that have high blood pressure, diabetes, atherosclerosis, or high cholesterol are all at higher risk. In addition, people who are above age 60, or who are smokers tend to also be at a higher risk of the disease.

How Do You Know If You Have Peripheral Artery Disease?

Often times the symptoms of PAD are obvious. The most common symptom is leg pain that occurs with walking or other physical activity. Other possible symptoms include muscle weakness; hair loss; skin that is cool to the touch; sores or ulcers in the legs and feet that don’t heal well; and cold or numb toes.
Anyone that is at risk for PAD and who experiences one or more symptoms should consult their doctor to determine if they have peripheral artery disease and what course of treatment they seek.

What Can You Do to Prevent PAD?

Couple running down stairs
It is important to prevent peripheral artery disease since disease of the arteries can lead to a number of other serious conditions. Physical activity is an important way to prevent PAD, as well as to improve mild symptoms of PAD.
Choose to be smoke free. Smoking increases the risks of developing PAD, as well as several other dangerous health conditions. If you are a smoker, choose a method to help you to successfully quit smoking.
Keep other health conditions in check. Other health conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure many times can lead to PAD. Following a healthy regimen that keeps these conditions under control will help to keep PAD at bay.

Is Compression Good for Treating PAD?

Ease Bold Patterned Compression Socks by Therafirm
Compression is the best method for increasing blood flow, and since peripheral artery disease is a decrease of blood flow to the extremities, it may seem like compression would be an adequate solution. Often times it is, but if the peripheral artery disease is advanced or severe, compression can actually worsen the condition. It is always critically important to visit a physician about all your serious health conditions, including peripheral artery disease. Together you and your doctor can develop a plan to manage your PAD, which may include wearing compression garments.

Compression products should not be worn and are contraindicated if you have any of the following conditions: Severe arterial insufficiency, cutaneous infections, acute dermatitis, wet dermatosis, uncontrolled congestive heart failure, skin irritations, allergies to dyes.

This is only general information and is not meant for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical conditions. Always consult your physician or other health care provider about all health concerns, conditions, and recommended treatments.

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