Category: News

What is lymphedema and who’s at risk for this condition?

What is lymphedema? It’s a form of chronic swelling. But, unlike other forms of swelling (or edema) lymphedema doesn’t develop when a fluid such as blood or water gets trapped in your soft tissue. Instead, this type of swelling sets in when your body’s lymph fluid gets trapped in the sift tissue of your skin.

Once that occurs, you’ll notice swelling that won’t go away. When you press down on the swollen areas of skin, the imprint of your finger will stick around. And, eventually, the problem can be painful.

But what is lymph fluid? Why would it get trapped in your skin? And who’s at risk for lymphedema? Keep reading for the answer to these and other important questions!

What is Lymph fluid? What is lymphedema?

Lymph fluid circulates within your body as part of the lymphatic system that travels alongside your veins and arteries. Filled with proteins and fats, this fluid helps get white blood cells to spots in your body where infection-fighting is necessary.

Since lymph fluid is key to helping immunity, anything that blocks it’s movement could leave you vulnerable to infection. Plus, once trapped in your soft tissue, built up lymph can also cause your body to form scar tissue or new fat deposits in the affected areas. Together, this combination can impact your mobility, making it difficult for you to get through your day.

Now you have a better understanding of lymph fluid. But why would it stop circulating? And what causes lymphedema? Unfortunately, there’s no one answer to this question. Because several different triggers or conditions could lead to the buildup of lymphatic fluid in your body.


What is Lymphedema? Underlying Causes of Chronic Swelling

Common causes of lymphedema include:

1.       Your genetics or family history

2.       Advanced vein disease

3.       Illness, including heart disease, heart failure, obesity, high blood pressure, liver disease, or kidney disease

4.       Physical trauma

5.       Cancer treatment, particularly for breast cancer survivors whose lymph nodes were removed. In fact, a new study shows that one third of women who’ve survived colon, uterine or ovarian cancer go on to develop lymphedema. (Sadly, black women have a higher risk of lymphedema following breast cancer surgery when compared to women of other races.)

Symptoms include swelling in your arm, leg, fingers or toes. (It could affect the entire limb, or only smaller parts.) Your limb may feel tight or heavy, and it could display limits on range of motion. Your affected arm or leg could ache or feeling uncomfortable. You may develop recurring infections, thick or hardened skin and, when lymphedema hits your lower body, leg cramps could also develop.

Regardless of the cause of lymphedema, it’s important to seek medical attention at the first sign of swelling. After all, the condition is progressive. And, if left untreated, your swelling could become both very painful and debilitating.

What is Lymphedema? Swelling that Usually Gets Worse Over Time

This condition develops in four stages. In its earliest stages, your symptoms may be very mild. Your arms or legs could feel heavy or experience a mild tingling sensation. But, as more fluid builds up, swelling will set in.

Once that occurs, things could get serious. In fact, for some people, the swelling of lymphedema makes it difficult to wear regular clothing. And, for others, the swelling is so severe that movement is challenging. Luckily, with early intervention, it’s usually possible to prevent this degree of progression.

Treatment Options

When caught early, we’ve seen great results using compression therapy for lymphedema. In many cases, you’ll combine compression socks or sleeves with a special form of massage to help get lymph fluid moving. (It’s called manual lymphatic drainage.)

Newer treatment options involve light therapy and surgery. But since there’s no way to predict if surgery will relieve swelling, it’s best to choose an earlier, less invasive intervention. In fact, because lymphatic surgeries offer mixed results, many surgeons instead opt to remove built up fat deposits using liposuction. Because, in this way, you can reduce lymphedema’s physical symptoms and limitations. But you won’t have to worry about patients not responding to treatment.

Supportive Products

Like we said, compression socks can really help with the fluid build-up. But did you know there are also special compression pumps you can use to get built-up fluid circulating? If you need a more dramatic intervention, this in-home medical device could help you manage your condition.

In less severe cases, grabbing a new bike can help you improve lymphedema through gentle exercise. Additionally, certain dietary changes can help improve circulation and reduce swelling. So stocking up on circulation boosting grocery items such as green tea could also help manage lymphedema at home.

Houston Lymphedema Help

Treating vein disease may help prevent lymphedema from developing or progressing. Plus, when you see your Houston area vein specialists, we can also prescribe compression therapy to help manage your chronic swelling.

Ready to manage swelling and regain mobility? We’re here to help. So reach out today and schedule your consultation at one of our five Houston-area locations!

Sources: Michigan Health


5 Reasons to Sleep on Your Side

Did you know that sleep on your side could save your health? Yup, it’s true. While it may not seem like a big deal, the side you sleep on, and how much sleep you get, can impact how your whole body works.

And guess what else? There’s a direct connection between sleep and vein health. Because, when you have varicose veins, studies show that symptoms such as leg cramps and itchiness are worst at night, making it harder for you to get enough rest. Want to get back on track with your sleep and learn your best positioning? From your vein health to your heart function and so much more, we’re guessing this post will get you switching up your sleep position.

Benefits of Sleeping on Your Side sleep on your side to boost vein health

Left or right, sleeping on your side is better for your body. First, it can help you avoid issues with heartburn or acid reflux.  It can improve your digestion, since studies show that side sleeping helps food move seamlessly from your small to large intestine. And from there to your colon. Now, if you sleep on your left side, you get an added boost. This position keeps your stomach and pancreases in an ideal for producing the enzymes that encourage your best digestion.

Guess what else? Side sleeping can improve your night time breathing patterns. Which means you can say goodbye to snoring (or at least reduce this annoying habit.) And, if you suffer from chronic back pain, side sleeping can help. It’s a good way to relieve pressure on your spine.  Which can translate to reduced aches and pains the next morning.

Sleep on Your Side to Boost Vein Health

Sleeping on your side can also help drain your body’s lymph fluid, meaning your risk of swelling (lymphedema) will also go down. This is especially true if you sleep on your left side, since that’s your dominant lymphatic-side. And left-side sleeping won’t just boost drainage. It can also improve your lymph nodes’ performance, strengthening your immune system and helping you fight off infections.

Plus, improved lymph drainage can help your heart. Because better draining near your heart means the organ doesn’t have to work as hard, so it’s under less pressure. And, side sleeping is very important for boosting your circulation. But if you’re pregnant, you should always sleep on your left side, not your right. Not only will this boost blood flow to your heart and your fetus, but it will also keep your uterus from pressing on your liver. Something that’s very important to the functioning of your internal organs.

As we mentioned, sleeping on your side can improve your circulation. And healthy circulation prevents blood from pooling in your veins, which can decrease your risk for spider veins. But that’s not all. When you sleep on your left side, you take pressure off your body’s largest vein, the Vena Cava, located on the right side of your body. This large vein, composed of two smaller, iliac veins, has a big job. It takes oxygen-poor blood from your legs, feet and stomach back to your heart. And if it can’t do that job, you will certainly see blood building up in your lower extremities. Which can cause your veins to swell and stretch, becoming visible beneath your skin. And possibly leaving you with varicose veins, a serious symptom of vein disease.

Want to take more steps to protect your vein health? Our Houston area vein specialists are here to help! Schedule a diagnostic ultrasound with one of our skilled technicians. We can identify any potential problems to help keep your veins working just the way they should!


Sources: American Cancer Society, KidsHealth, Anatomy, Abdomen and Pelvis, Inferior Vena Cava

Move It Monday: Benefits of Walking Workouts

Are you ready to embrace the benefits of walking? We know that maintaining a regular (physician approved) exercise program can help you slow the progression of vein disease, while also lowering your risk of experiencing associated complications, but we also know that it can be tough to get started.

Frequent exercise, like taking walks, can help manage the pain of PAD

To help you get motivated, our Texas Endovascular Team regularly shares Move it Monday fitness inspiration! If you like it what you see, incorporate the workout in to your routine! Not your jam? Come back another time for more motivation!

On the schedule this week: A Beginner’s Walking Schedule, courtesy of Before beginning, check your posture to make sure your chin is up, you’re standing straight, and you’re not leaning forward or backward while you move. Walk at an easy pace for a few minutes before speeding up. Wear supportive shoes and comfy clothing. You can do your walking outdoors, indoors, or on a treadmill.

The Right Way to Begin a Walking Workout Program

In order to enjoy some of the benefits of walking, you actually have to get your body moving! Here’s a four-week plan for moving more and helping your body enjoy the results.

Week 1: Start with a daily 15-minute walk at an easy pace. Walk five days the first week. You want to build a habit, so consistency is important. Spread out your rest days, such as making day 3 a rest day and day 6 a rest day.

Weekly total goal: 60 to 75 minutes.

Week 2: Add five minutes a day so you are walking for 20 minutes, five days a week. Or, you may wish to extend yourself more on some days, followed by a rest day.

Weekly total goal: 75 to 100 minutes.

Week 3: Add five minutes a day so you are walking for 25 minutes, five days a week.

Weekly total goal: 100 to 125 minutes.

Week 4: Add five minutes a day to walk for 30 minutes, five days a week.

Weekly total goal: 125 to 150 minutes.

Snags: If you find any week to be difficult, repeat that week rather than adding more time. Do this until you are able to progress comfortably.

Walking for the Elderly: a Perfect Choice

Taking a walk is a great movement choice for everyone. But recent findings, presented at the European Society of Cardiology Congress, showed why it’s even more important for older adults. Basically, they found that just one hour of walking a week reduces the risk of any form of death by 40%, for adults over the age of 85.

Here’s what we learned. Researchers followed more than 7,000 over the age of 85 who joined the Korean National Health Screening Program. And even those who walked slowly, for at least 1 hour per week, enjoyed that 40% reduced risk for all-cause mortality. Plus, they reduced their risk of cardiovascular mortality by 39%, compared to adults who remained inactive. As a result, study author Moo-Nyun Jin, MD concluded, “Walking was linked with a lower likelihood of dying in older adults.” And you can get those benefits whether you move slowly or vigorously.

Benefits of Walking: Improve Your PAD Symptoms

Low impact workouts are a great choice for any one looking to increase your activity level. But, as vein specialists, we especially recommend walking to our PAD patients. That’s because PAD pain often pops up when you walk, making this simple-yet-crucial task very difficult.

Why is walking so hard when you have PAD? It’s because of atherosclerosis, which is when plaque builds up in your leg arteries. This plaque blocks oxygen and nutrients from getting to your legs when they fire up to get you moving. So, when you have PAD and you start moving, you may experience the pain of that oxygen deprivation.

But, even though PAD makes walking hurt, that very movement can help you manage PAD symptoms. The more you walk, the better your muscles learn to adapt to their limited blood supply. And, as your muscles adapt, you’ll be able to walk for longer periods before that PAD pain pops up and slows you down. angioplasty for PAD

That’s why walking programs like the one we just introduced can be helpful for PAD patients, helping improve , your muscle strength as well as your ability to balance and complete your daily tasks. Also, as your calf muscles get stronger, your circulation may improve. And, if you dramatically improve your lifestyle habits as you embrace more movement, you may stop PAD progression as you research more permanent treatment options. (See the image at right for one PAD treatment option.)

Now, your walking results won’t be instant: you may need to stick to the program for as long as three months before seeing symptom improvements. Now, as always, check with your doctor before beginning any new exercise programs. If you have any questions about your ability to exercise with an endovascular condition, come in to our offices for a consultation with our Houston area vein specialists, Dr. Fox, Dr. Hardee and Dr. Valenson.



Why would I choose lymphatic massage near me?

Could a lymphatic massage near me help manage my lymphedema? Well, lymphedema describes a chronic build-up of fluid in the legs caused by challenges to the body’s lymphatic system. Many celebrities believe that lymphatic massages are a great beauty tool. They’re used to reduce fluid build-up and improve face and leg contouring. But could this technique actually be a valuable medical intervention? Let’s take a closer look.

What is a Lymphatic Massage Near Me? person receiving lymphatic massage near me

A lymphatic drainage massage employs various techniques to help your body fight fluid retention. Stars like Jennifer Aniston and Hailey Bieber swear by this technique and can choose between services that target either the body or the face. A lymphatic body massage focuses on ridding your body of fluid and toxins. And a facial massage helps accentuate cheek and jaw bones. Basically, the techniques are the same.

When you choose lymphatic massage near me, your masseuse will apply gentle pressure along the network of lymphatic vessels. Using rhythmic compression, the technique is meant to unclog plugged-up lymphatic vessels. In theory, it also stimulates your lymphatic system, optimizing its function. But can this technique really work?  The answer lies in understanding lymphedema.


What Causes Lymphedema?

Often, lymphedema is a symptom of an underlying condition. Untreated vein disease may progress to chronic lymphedema. And many patients who have undergone cancer therapy experience lymphedema.

If an underlying condition triggers your lymphedema, a massage may offer momentary relief. But it won’t cure your condition. Still, for people who experience edema, the massage technique can help support better immune help, while boosting circulation and potentially reducing your varicose vein risk.

Lymphatic massage near me: How long will results last?

Any massage results are temporary. But your benefits may be more noticeable if you engage in regular lymphatic massage. To help improve your results, and your overall health, a lymphatic massage should be just one piece of your overall health routine. Most importantly, follow a vein-healthy diet and drink lots of water. After all, lymph fluid is composed mostly of water. So staying hydrated can help lymph fluid move freely in your body. (Unless you have underlying medical complications.)

Managing Edema and Lymphedema in Houston, TX

While lymphatic massage is mostly a soothing beauty technique, there are medically effective ways to manage swelling and lymphedema. Here in our Houston area vein clinics, we can treat varicose veins and other conditions that lead to fluid retention. Then, we can offer relief for painful swelling, and help you restore the health and appearance of your legs and lymphatic system. Contact our office today for a lymphedema consultation.

What is Kienböck’s disease?

Kienböck’s disease is a condition that develops when lack of blood supply damages your lunate one, one of eight small carpal bones in your wrist. Men are more often impacted then women, and most people with Kienböck’s disease are between the ages of 20 and 40 years old.

Kienböck’s Disease Symptoms Kienbock’s disease

With this condition, you’ll notice wrist pain, stiffness and swelling. The strength of your grip may weaken, and you may notice an unusual clinking sound when you move. Turning your hand upwards will be difficult and cause pain, and you’ll experience tenderness at the site of the lunate bone. Because Kienböck’s disease is progressive, symptoms will slowly worsen over time. Immediately after losing its blood supply, there will be visible changes to your lunate bone on MRIs, but not on X-rays. Then, without treatment, your bone will appear dense and it will harden. Over time, it can break into fragments or collapse completely, at which points nearby bones may also develop damage or arthritis.


Causes and Risk Factors

While your genes may increase your risk for Kienböck’s disease, arterial and vein disease can both contribute to this condition. Trauma to your risk and abnormal bone structures, along with diseases such as gout, lupus, cerebral palsy and sickle cell anemia all increase your risk.

Diagnosing and Treating Kienböck’s disease

Depending on when you seek medical care, your diagnosis may include a physical exam, medical history, MRI, CT scan and/or an X-ray. Depending on the severity of disease, your treatment may involve splinting or casting your wrist to restore blood flow to your bone.

Anti-inflammatory medications, along with or independently of cortisone injections can help reduce pain and swelling. Seek out physical therapy if your wrist mobility becomes compromised. And be sure to address your reduced blood flow with arterial or vein treatments if that’s causing your condition.

In certain cases, you may require orthopedic procedures such as joint leveling or bone grafts to undo damage to your lunate bone. In certain cases, your doctor may even recommend implanting a prosthetic bone to treat your Kienböck’s disease.

Preventing Problems

Because this disease is progressive, seeking early treatment or preventative care is the best way to preserve your wrist mobility. If you sustain any trauma to your wrist, seek immediate medical care to ensure proper healing and protect blood flow to the area. And, if you have blockages or reduced circulation in your veins or arteries? Schedule an immediate appointment with our Houston area specialists. Using our diagnostic ultrasound, we’ll identify problem areas and come up with a plan to improve blood flow and protect your wrist and overall health.

Why is My Vein Swollen?

As Houston area vein specialists, we’re often asked, “Why is my Vein Swollen?” Usually, this symptom means our patient has spider or varicose veins. Now, let’s explore 5 causes of varicose veins. That way, we may be able to stop swollen veins before they start!

Why is My Vein Swollen? why is my vein swollen

Varicose veins appear swollen because they’re filled with blood. But why does that blood pool in your veins? This happens when valves inside your veins fail, making it harder for blood to flow back to your heart. Soon, that pooling blow stretches out the vein walls. And that’s when they appear swollen and become visible on the surface of your skin.

But what causes valves to fail and triggers varicose veins? So many factors contribute to this form of vein disease. And these are some of the most common.

Sitting too much

When you sit for too long, varicose veins may develop over time. Why is that the case? First, sitting helps make blood pool in your legs. Then, the veins face more pressure trying to pump that blood up and out of your legs and feet. If sitting for hours becomes a regular habit, that pressure can cause your veins to stretch and swell. The most common spot you’ll notice this symptom is in your leg veins, since they’re below the heart and have a hard time fighting gravity.

But Standing is Also a Problem

Just like sitting, standing up all day can make your veins swell. (That’s why standing desks can cause problems for your veins, even as they keep you from too much sitting.) In this case, the problem comes from making your veins fight pooling blood, while supporting your full body weight. After all, your muscles can only help get blood out of your leg when they’re activated and moving. So, to prevent damage, try moving as much as possible. And try exercises that build up your calf muscles, to make blood pumping more effective when you do move.

Why is My Vein Swollen? Weight Could be a Factor

Your leg veins face pressure from your full body. For that reason, if you are currently above your ideal weight, that puts more pressure on those veins. Additionally, obesity raises your risk for high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes. And all of those conditions can also increase your risk for swollen veins, as well as other complications.

Pregnancy and Menopause

During pregnancy and after a woman reaches menopause, her hormone levels change. These shifts make your veins more relaxed, which means they’re more likely to stretch and swell. At the same time, your blood volume increases dramatically during pregnancy, and that extra pressure makes varicose veins more likely to develop.

Passing Time

As you get older, your vein valves start to deteriorate naturally. This can lead to reflux–when your blood flows back into your veins–which increases your risk for swollen veins. While we can’t stop time from passing, we can follow a vein healthy diet and stick with a circulation-boosting exercise program to lower your risk.

Swollen Vein Help in Houston, TX

Clearly, the valves in your veins are delicate. And you need them to keep blood flowing out of your legs, and prevent swelling or stretching in your veins. Now, to help prevent vein disease, you can certainly avoid these risk factors. But, if you notice slight swelling in any of your veins, make an immediate appointment at one of our five Houston area vein clinics. Remember, vein disease is progressive. So the sooner you seek treatment, the easier it will be to give you back your healthy veins!


6 Tips for Post DVT Care

If you’ve had a deep vein thrombosis, it’s important to follow your post DVT care instructions. During your initial recovery period, you’ll have very specific steps you’ll follow. But even after your clot resolves and you can return to normal activity, it’s important to look at your lifestyle and make adjustments. After all, having one DVT increases your risk for future blood clots. So to stay safe and prevent future clotting, here are six post DVT care lifestyle changes to lower your risk of recurrence. (But keep in mind that these suggestions won’t replace doctor-prescribed blood thinners, or any other medical instructions.)

1. Post DVT Care: Get Active Safe post DVT care

Long periods of sitting, especially on a long flight or car ride, raise your risk for DVT. For that reason, moving more can lower your risk for future clots. In fact, studies show that regular exercise lowers your risk for venous thromboembolism, or VTE, a diagnosis that includes DVT and pulmonary embolism. (That’s a blood clot in your lungs, a potentially fatal condition.)

Not sure where to begin with exercise? We love to suggest swimming, walking or biking workouts on our Move it Monday posts. That’s because these gentle workouts are low impact but keep blood pumping out of your legs. Still, you should always check with your healthcare provider before beginning a new exercise routine.


2. Reach or Maintain a Healthy Weight

Higher body mass index (BMI) numbers dramatically increase your risk for blood clots. Obesity is a risk factor for DVT. Speak to your primary care provider about all your options. But following this vein and heart-healthy diet could help you lose weight and live healthier, along with a regular exercise program.


3. Butt Out

Smoking negatively impacts your health in so many ways. But in terms of post DVT care, it can increase your risk for future clots because it impacts the quality of your platelets, the parts of your blood involved in clotting. Need help quitting? Check out these free resources to start stopping today.

4. Always Take Precautions During Travel

Planning a long flight or road trip? Any excursion that’s over seven hours could increase your risk for clots. If you’re driving, be sure to build frequent stops into your itinerary. And if you’re traveling by air? Plan to get up and walk through the plane regularly. Or check out these exercises that keep blood flowing and that you can do straight from your seat.

5. Drink that H20

If your hydration levels drop, your blood circulation may slow down, and that can increase your risk for DVT. Every body needs different levels of hydration. And hot, humid weather like we get here in Houston certainly increases the amount of fluid you need to take in. But a good level of hydration to shoot for is about eight to 10 glasses of water each day.

6. Practice Stress Management

Stress and inflammation go hand in hand. And inflammation can raise your blood pressure levels, also increasing your risk for future clots. As a result, managing your stress levels is a key part of post DVT care.

Now, stress management looks different for everyone. But spending time outside, meditating or practicing yoga can all be effective tools. The key is to find something that works for you and stick with it. Even—or especially—when life gets hectic.


Post DVT Care in Houston, TX

After you’ve had one DVT, your risk for another one increases. First, learn the warning signs of deep vein thrombosis. (If you notice any of these symptoms, seek immediate medical care.) Then, make sure to stick with regular venous and arterial check-ins. Our Houston area vein specialists are here to help, so schedule your appointment today!

What is arterial embolization and what does it treat?

We’re interventional radiologists in Houston, TX. So we regularly perform arterial embolization. Using this procedure, we shut off blood flow to certain parts of your body for therapeutic reasons. We use a catheter to inject embolic material to your veins or arteries. Usually, these are plastic beads that are safe for your body, but still block your blood movement. This way, we can treat uterine fibroids or varicocele. (These are swollen veins in your scrotum. Left untreated, they’re a major cause of male infertility.)

When it’s your veins that are affected, embolization can still help. In this case, we inject medication that causes foam to form. Then, it closes the problem spider vein. (We call this sclerotherapy.) Or, when you have a more serious condition—varicose veins—we use directed heat therapy. (Called radiofrequency vein ablation.)

Basically, since the 1970s,  we’ve used arterial embolization to treat many vein and arterial complications. But today, doctors are learning how this procedure could treat many other conditions. And with great promise, too! So please join us as we take a closer look!

What is arterial embolization?

This is a minimally invasive procedure. That means you won’t need general anaesthetic. Plus, you can usually avoid an overnight hospital stay after arterial embolization. Also, your recovery is much easier than after surgery of any kind.

As we mentioned, interventional radiologists have spent years treating patients with arterial embolization. And that launched many new treatment avenues. After great results with varicocele, doctors now use AE to treat benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). (That condition causes an enlarged prostate.)

Emerging Applications

Right now, researchers at Imperial College London are exploring whether arterial embolization could manage obesity. In studies, they’re trying to block blood flow to the top of the stomach. Because that’s where your body produces a hunger-inducing hormone called ghrelin. And, since hormones travel to your brain through your bloodstream, blocking flow away from the ghrelin production zone could reduce unpleasant hunger pangs. in turn, people might find it easier to lose weight.

Early results are promising. In similar U.S. studies, participants lost up to 10% of their body weight following gastric arterial embolization. Still, London studies are ongoing, so it will likely take some time before this becomes a widespread treatment option.

Arterial Embolization: New Hope for Patients with Liver Cancer

Right now, patients with liver cancer receive systemic chemotherapy, but much of the tumor-fighting medication gets lost in the bloodstream. To help improve direct deliver—and patient outcomes—researchers are trying to develop a new treatment method, called trans-arterial chemoembolisation (TACE). Like arterial embolization, doctors using this approach would directly deposit chemotherapy drugs into a liver tumor via injection. Then, through arterial embolization, they’d close the hepatic artery, cutting off blood flow to the liver so the tumors lose their source of nutrition.

In this way, treatment offers a two-pronged attack. First, the medication directly targets the tumor. Then,  AE cuts off any form of blood flow. And that means tumors can’t get larger while drugs become more effective. While available to some patients in the UK, TACE is still considered a back-up treatment. It’s only recommended if surgery isn’t an option.

Hope for Sore Knees?

Finally, Royal Berkshire Hospital is exploring AE for arthritis. It blocks blood flow to the geniculate artery. And that  reduces arthritis-related knee pain and inflammation.

While still under investigation, one Japanese study proved that arthritis patients enjoyed 75% less knee pain in the four years after AE. Also, early RBH results came out last year in Cardiovascular and Interventional Radiology. They show that patients’ knee pain improved by 50% just three months after treatment.

Arterial Embolization Treatment in Houston, TX

Our team is so excited about all the emerging ways AE could help offer less invasive treatment options to a wide range of patients. But we’re also very proud of the results we can already deliver for patients with arterial or vein health concerns. For that reason, we invite you to schedule an appointment with our Houston area vein specialists, and explore less invasive treatment options for vein and arterial disease.

Why are my Feet Numb? Help for Diagnosing PAD

Are you wondering, why are my feet numb? Or have you developed leg cramps or calf pain when you walk? While these symptoms might send you running to the podiatrist, they’re actually a sign of peripheral arterial disease (PAD), a form of heart disease. Here’s what you need to know.

Why Are My Feet Numb? Early Signs of Heart Disease why are my feet numb

When you think about heart disease, you probably think about chest pain. Maybe you’ve even heard that shooting arm pain could be a heart attack warning sign. But you probably don’t think about your feet telling you something about your heart. And that’s a mistake.

After all, your heart’s got a big job: it has to circulate blood throughout your body. But, if something slows down your circulation, this form of heart disease could trigger symptoms in your feet and legs.

For that reason, the answer to, “Why are my feet numb,” could be: your heart’s in trouble. And, more specifically, it could be a sign you’ve got PAD. Especially if you also notice leg cramps, skin color changes or patches of hair loss on your legs.

Leg Cramps and Whole Body PAD Symptoms

Why does PAD cause numbness or leg cramps? The answer is pretty simple. When you have this condition, plaque has built up inside your arteries. (We call this atherosclerosis.)  This build-up narrows your arteries, so less blood gets through to your legs and feet.

What happens next? Well, with reduced blood flow, numb feet are possible. Plus, those leg cramps we mentioned can show up when you walk or exercise. And that’s because they’re not receiving enough oxygen-rich blood to support their movement.

C.H.A.T Campaign for Diagnosing PAD

In April, we marked “Limb Loss Awareness Month” and “National Minority Health Month.” And that’s why we need to answer questions like “Why are my feet numb?” by diagnosing PAD. After all, three-in-five heart attack sufferers have PAD, as do one fifth of people over 60 and one-third of people with diabetes over the age of 50. Members of minority communities have a high risk of undiagnosed PAD, which ups their risk for heart attacks, strokes, and  amputations.

For that reason, activists launched a new campaign, called Let’s C.H.A.T.,” to help clinicians diagnosing PAD during routine checkups. The initials stand for Carotids, Heart, Abdomen, and Toes. And they offer a plan for determining vascular health with the tools available in a typical clinic. Here’s how it all breaks down.

C: Check the neck arteries, called CAROTIDS, for an audible sound known as a bruit. This suggests problems with blood flow.

H: Check HEART rhythm and rate.

A: Listen for a bruit in the ABDOMEN.

T: Examine the TOES for foot and leg pulses. This can help detect restricted blood flow due to PAD.

Along with a comprehensive oral health history and our PAD risk assessment metric, these little letters could help patients get an earlier diagnosis. And reduce their risk for cardiovascular complications.

Why are my feet numb and other PAD Symptoms

Of course, these aren’t the only signs of PAD. Other common symptoms include changes in your feet and legs’ skin color. (Usually becoming pale, or even developing a blue-ish tinge.)

Your feet may feel cold, the growth of your leg hair and toenails may slow, or you may even develop leg ulcers. It’s also important to mention that PAD symptoms differ for men and women. Some men develop erectile dysfunction with this condition. And women tend to have fewer noticeable symptoms. This means their diagnoses come later, leading to more serious complications and more invasive treatment needs.

Preventing PAD

Several lifestyle changes can help you reduce your risk for PAD. First and most important: quit smoking if you haven’t already. Like PAD, smoking limits your blood flow. So the two together can make a deadly combination.

Next, it’s very important to follow a vein health diet, to control your cholesterol levels, maintain a healthy weight, and keep your blood sugar levels in the ideal range. Regular exercise can prevent heart disease. (And certain types of exercise can even improve PAD symptoms like leg cramps.) Of course, in some cases these measures won’t be enough to prevent disease. In that case, you’ll need to seek medical treatment options.

Diagnosing and Treating PAD in Houston, TX PAD treatment

Identifying PAD is crucial, because the condition increases your risk for strokes and heart attacks, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  Because of this serious risk, preventing peripheral arterial disease is incredibly important. And so is early diagnosis and intervention.

In our Houston area vein clinics, we offer an easy assessment to help identify your PAD risk. Then, if you have an elevated risk, or already have atherosclerosis, we can recommend a variety of treatment options. These include angioplasty, stenting and atherectomy. And the option we suggest for you will depend on your current health and the severity of your condition.

Why are my Feet Numb? Non-PAD Related Causes

In some cases, numb feet and leg cramps don’t mean you have PAD. In fact, if you’re diabetic, the answer to “Why are my feet numb?” could be peripheral neuropathy. (This is a form of nerve damage that impacts up to 70% of diabetics. And it limits feeling in your feet, or causes tingling or burning pain.)

Neuropathy is also a common after-effect of chemotherapy. And people living with HIV may also develop this form of nerve damage. You could even develop numb feet without PAD or neuropathy: this symptom could be a side effect of certain medications, as well as autoimmune diseases, kidney problems or even liver issues.

Regardless of the cause, numb feet and leg cramps are symptoms you can’t ignore. For that reason, if you’ve noticed changes in foot sensation, leg cramps or other PAD warning signs, the time to act is now. Schedule an immediate appointment with our team of Houston area vein specialists. Using the Ankle-Brachial Index (ABI, a simple bedside test) we can quickly and painlessly diagnose peripheral arterial disease. Then, if that’s the cause of your numb feet, we can tailor your treatment plan to prevent serious complications and heart disease progression.


Here’s How Our Endovascular Procedures Help Chronic Limb Ischemia Treatment

When you have Type 2 diabetes, you’re at a higher risk for peripheral arterial disease (PAD) as well as critical limb ischemia (CLI). With CLI, there’s also a risk of tissue loss from ulcers and gangrene. And, for that reason, you’re more likely to need chronic limb-threatening ischemia treatment (CLTI).

Recently, a study came out explaining how endovascular treatments can help with CLTI outcomes. Of course, our Houston area interventional radiologists are excited about these findings. So, today, we’ll review how endovascular therapy can improve ischemia treatment outcomes. But first, let’s take a closer look at the complex conditions we’re exploring in this post: PAD, CLI and CLTI.

What is PAD? endovascular therapy boosts ischemia treatment

Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD) describes a build-up of plaque in your arteries. With this condition, you’ll experience slower blood flow from the heart to the rest of your body. But what’s that plaque composed of? Well, it forms from cholesterol, calcium, fibrin, and fatty substances. Over time, that mix narrows or ‘hardens’ your arteries. (We call this Atherosclerosis.) And, once atherosclerosis sets in, reduced blood flow to your vital organs and limbs will make it harder for them to keep up with your body’s demands. Soon, you’ll notice painful symptoms such as leg cramps with movement. You may also develop changes in skin color, patches of hair loss on your legs, ulcers and other warning signs and symptoms.

What is CLI?

This is a severe form of PAD. When you have CLI, you often experience chronic pain, even without movement. Your risk for ulcers and gangrene are also much higher. And that’s because of the long-term lack of sufficient blood flow to your lower limbs.

With CLI, you may also experience unpleasant symptoms such as foot pain and/or numbness, and a reduced or missing pulse in your feet. Additionally, leg and foot wounds will take longer to heal, which is why you’re at greater risk for ulcers and tissue death.

What is CLTI? swollen, painful legs and ankles could be lymphedemaolding knee

This is a clinical diagnosis we’d make if you have PAD as well as resting foot pain and a lower leg ulcer or a gangrenous patch for 2 weeks or longer. We consider this diagnosis to be extremely dangerous; with CLTI, you’re at a very high risk for limb loss. So you need to seek ischemia treatment. And, according to new study findings, seeking endovascular care to open up your arteries could be a great option.

How Endovascular Therapy Boosts Ischemia Treatment

Clearly, seeking ischemia treatment can prevent limb loss. And that’s especially true for people with diabetes, who have additional circulation challenges, even without PAD. Until recently, ischemia treatment options included wound treatment, controlling the infections, and arterial revascularization.

Now, there are two ways to pull off arterial revascularization. These include bypass surgery or endovascular interventions. As interventional radiologists, we always prefer the endovascular approach. We believe that it minimizes the risks of undergoing open surgery. Plus, it does so while yielding similar or greater results.

But you don’t have to take our word for it! In fact, in a recent review of two patients with CLTI, researchers followed two diabetic patients with unhealed lesions. Both patients received quality wound care, help for their glucose levels, and endovascular therapy to restore blood flow. Here’s what the study revealed about this approach to ischemia treatment.  procedure.

Endovascular Arterial Care to Speed Ischemia Treatment

The two patients involved in this study received endovascular therapy to restore arterial blood flow. For the first patient, that meant an angioplasty. With this approach, therapists use a balloon to widen a diseased artery. And that way, more blood flows through.

Now, the second patient’s therapy involved stent placement in the diseased artery. That means doctors placed a tiny, expandable coil in the troubled artery. This coil can push aside built up plaque and help boost blood flow to the lower limbs.

While both endovascular patients received different forms of therapy, they enjoyed similar results. Their wounds healed, and their painful symptoms resolved. As such, researchers concluded that seeking ischemia treatment with an endovascular procedure “may result in a better outcome of wound healing.”

Arterial Revascularization for Ischemia Treatment in Houston, TX

Are you living with PAD and worried about CLI and limb loss? Our Houston area vein specialists are here to help. In our Houston, Katy, Sugar Land, Clear Lake and The Woodlands locations, we offer arterial angioplasty, stenting and atherectomy therapies. So, if you’ve been told that ischemia treatment is the best way to save your limbs? Don’t rush to the surgical table. Instead, schedule a consultation with our doctors. We’ll help you explore less invasive ways to manage PAD and prevent amputations!


Vascular Health Risk Management, Cureus



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