When it comes to managing health, it’s important to understand a condition so that you can better control it. However, there are times when physicians use terms interchangeably without disclosing what they mean. Take PAD vs PVD for instance. Although they sound the same, there are subtle differences that you should know.
PAD or peripheral arterial disease, for example, is a disease that affects the arteries alone, while peripheral vein disease (PVD) is a broader term that can also involve issues with the blood vessels, veins and lymphatic vessels of the body.
While both are progressive disorders that limit the flow of oxygenated blood by blocking or narrowing blood vessels, PVD doesn’t cause structural damage on the walls of the artery whereas PAD does.
So why is this important?
Tissue damage found on the walls of arteries is caused by an accumulation of fat. This is commonly known as plaque. When plaque breaks off it can cause major health concerns if it starts to travel to other areas of the body. It can, for instance, cause deep vein thrombosis (DVT) in the Iliac vein or travel upwards towards the brain and trigger a stroke.
That is not to say that PVD isn’t dangerous if not treated. On the contrary, a build-up of fatty deposits inside the vein can cause a severe reduction in blood flow which in extreme circumstances can lead to amputation.
PAD vs PVD – The symptoms
While PAD and PVD have similar symptoms there are subtle differences. So what can patients expect?
Common symptoms of PAD include:
- Pain or cramping in the leg muscles, thigh and buttocks that disappear when resting
- Tingling or numbing sensation in the lower limbs
- Non or slow healing of sores located on the toes, feet and legs
- Skin color changes on the affected limbs
- Poor nail growth on toes
- Thinning of the skin on the legs
- Some people don’t experience any symptoms at all
While common symptoms of PVD include:
- Heaviness or tightness in the leg muscles
- Dull pain or cramping that occurs in the lower limbs
- Legs or feet that feel cold or cool to the touch
- Loss of leg hair
- Occasional burning sensations in the lower limbs
- Skin color changes
So what can you do if you develop any of the above symptoms?
The first thing to do is to seek medical advice. Talk to someone who knows about vein health and vein problems. The key point to remember is that both PAD and PVD aren’t life-endangering in themselves. They can, however, trigger some pretty serious problems if not dealt with. As a result, any conditions should be treated early for favourable outcomes
The good news is that both peripheral arterial disease and peripheral vein disease both respond well to early treatment – particularly lifestyle changes such as a change in diet and exercise, resulting in a lowering of cholesterol, blood pressure and the control of blood sugar levels. So while there are no definitive cures for either ailment, problems can be controlled indefinitely given the right care, attention and medical assistance.
As such, your doctor may recommend a program of supervised activity that can be sustained over a period of time. This may include gentle aerobic exercises such as walking or cycling. In addition, the daily intake of a low dose aspirin may help to prevent blood clotting.
For PAD sufferers in particular, if lower limb pain is so severe that it prevents you from functioning normally, then your physician may suggest revascularization treatment – either in the form of:
- an angioplasty – where arteries are widened using a small balloon; or
- an artery bypass where blood vessels are taken from one part of your body and used to bypass the affected or blocked area.
However, these procedures are normally augmented only when a patient does not experience any difference when making distinct lifestyle changes like those listed above, or by responding to medication.
So there you have it, PAD vs PAD!
If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms then it pays to talk to a PAD/PVD specialist. Here at the Midwest Institute for Non-Surgical Therapy, Dr. Goke Akinwande and his team can assist by focusing on reducing symptoms to give you a better quality of life. Don’t be one of the 20million Americans who regularly suffer from PAD/PVD. Take action today and get your life back on track. Request a consultation today at one of our 5 clinics, including the latest addition in Chicago, IL.