Lower-extremity diseases are the leading cause of non-injury amputation and disability in the United States for people over 50. Two of these diseases, peripheral neuropathy and peripheral artery disease (PAD), can be brought on by diabetes. Awareness of the relationship between these conditions and similarities in the warning signs is why a PAD screening and early detection is vital to your overall health.
Diabetes has been a growing epidemic over the past 30 years due to the introduction of corn syrup and high sugar substrates to our diets. But hereditary and cultural influences are also contributing factors to diabetes, and it is becoming increasingly common to see signs and symptoms of neuropathy and PAD in pre-diabetic patients.
Diabetes can lead to neuropathy and the path it takes is through PAD
Neuropathy may occur in over 60% of patients with diabetes, and the symptoms of diabetic neuropathy may also include leg cramping or a sensation of aching pain, similar to the PAD. So from a practical standpoint, neuropathy and peripheral artery disease frequently coexist as related conditions, which makes it difficult to differentiate vascular pain from neuropathic pain.
The leading risk factors of PAD are age and diabetes, and some of the common warning signs are pain and cramping in your legs and feet. PAD restricts blood flow to your lower legs and feet, and it prevents oxygen rich blood cells from reaching your lower extremities. This will ultimately lead to a breakdown of the skin and diabetic skin ulcers –– sores that will not heal and rapidly lead to infections that can spread to the bones in your feet and legs.
What you need to know about the relationship between diabetes, neuropathy and PAD is that the causes are not necessarily interdependent of one another, but that diabetes can lead to neuropathy and the path it takes is through PAD. And the leg pains and warning signs are similar enough that if you are experiencing one of more of these symptoms, you should be screened for PAD even if you have not been diagnosed as diabetic.
This is your time to take preventative action. Please contact one of the Modern Vascular clinics for a free PAD screening if you are over 50, diabetic and experiencing the pain and warning signs of neuropathy and peripheral artery disease.