Do Bad Habits Affect Your Feet?

Do Bad Habits Affect Your Feet?

Dr. Olga Garcia Luepschen, DPM


   Do your legs hurt or cramp up when you walk or climb stairs?  Does your leg pain go away when you rest but then return when you start to move again?  Do you have leg pain that awakens you at night time? Have you noticed a difference in the amount you can walk before the pain starts as compared to a few months ago?  Do you blame this on old age?

Many people mistakenly think that leg pain is a natural part of getting older.  This pain cycle is called intermittent claudication.  It can be a sign of peripheral arterial disease.  PAD, also know as “hardening of the arteries” or atherosclerosis of the legs, and affect about 12 million Americans.  PAD occurs when the vessels that carry blood to your lower body become narrow or blocked.  This makes it harder for blood to reach your leg.  Untreated PAD can result in the leg and foot tissue dying which also is as gangrene.  This may lead to amputation of the toes feet and legs.  Atherosclerosis can occur in other parts of the body such as the heart and brain which can lead to heart attack or stroke.

Symptoms of intermittent claudication include.

  • Pain in the calf, thigh, buttocks.
  • Characterized as aches, cramps have numbness or tightness; and
  • May be felt in on or both legs.

Risk factors can include age, smoking, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, sedentary lifestyle, obesity, diabetes, and family history.  Smokers have three times greater chance of developing PAD than non-smokers.  Smoking causes narrowing of the blood vessels, which decreases the blood flow to the legs.  The amount of oxygen is reduced increasing leg pain.  The blood vessel’s lining becomes irritated which can speed hardening of the arteries.  High cholesterol plays a role by building up in the walls of the arteries in the legs, reducing blood flow.  High blood pressure contributes to hardening of the arteries.  A sedentary lifestyle can result in muscle loss, lowering endurance and higher blood pressure which complicates intermittent claudication.  Obesity can raise blood pressure blood cholesterol and increase the chance of getting diabetes.  One out of three diabetic has PAD.  Test to check where your blood vessels are blocked includes Ankle Brachial Index.  ABI measures the ratio of blood pressure in the ankle to that of the arm.  Doppler ultrasound uses harmless sound-wave to produce and image of the blood vessels.  During an angiogram, a dye in injected into your blood vessels showing where the blockage is.  Treatment for PAD includes medication, exercise, therapy, and bypass surgery, minimally invasive procedures such as angioplasty and plaque excision.  If left untreated, with less blood reaching your feet, minor injuries to the feet can lead to infection, non-healing wounds, gangrene and amputation.

Dr. Olga Garcia Luepschen and the Gentle Foot Care Center are located 2 Ryant Blvd (on US27) can be reached 314-9255(walk).  Check us out at


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