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What is Foot Ischemia?

Foot with pain

The human body is a remarkable and complicated system of interdependent structures, organs and tissues that work together day in and day out to work in ways we often take for granted. The cardiovascular system pulls oxygen from the lungs and transfers it through the capillaries and into blood vessels that supply oxygen and nutrients to the body’s cells.

When there is a block or narrowing of the arteries, it can result in a serious medical condition called Ischemia (is-KE’ me-ah). This condition is generally triggered by plaque in your arteries, blood clots or even injury to arteries, and can affect significant organs like the brain or heart. Ischemic foot refers to inadequate blood supply to the foot, which restricts oxygen and nutrients to the foot and can then result in loss of regular function, gangrene and sores or ulcers on the foot or ankle.

Reasons for and Risk Factors for Ischemic Foot

The most typical reason for Ischemic foot is atherosclerosis– a collection of plaque in the arteries. Arterial plaque is mainly made of fat, cholesterol, and calcium and is a tough and sticky compound. The plaque develops at a slow rate which makes early detection hard. In countries where industrialization has occurred, it can typically start in early youth. Therefore, over time atherosclerosis solidifies and narrows the arteries, minimizing blood circulation through the narrowed blood vessels.

Other reasons for the ischemic foot include blood clots in the artery, injury to the artery and arterial spasms.

You are at higher risk for ischemia with cigarette smoking, older age, high cholesterol, hypertension (high blood pressure), family history of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and weight problems.

Signs of Ischemic Foot

Symptoms of ischemia depend on how rapidly the blood flow is decreased and where the blockage occurs. Signs in early phases consist of muscle cramps after activity, cold feet, and toe discolorations (turning purple or reddish). Signs of more advanced ischemia include the need to stop and rest while walking to relieve leg pain also known as claudication and burning pain in the ball of the foot and toes. Foot and leg pain at rest indicates a more severe condition and it is present even when you are resting or asleep. Some people get the pain while sleeping and need to hang their legs over the edge of the bed or walk to increase the blood flow. When these symptoms are left neglected, they can cause gangrene and necrosis– premature cell death in tissues including the toes and feet.

Treatment for Ischemic Foot

Stopping or controlling poor habits, particularly smoking cigarettes, is really essential. Controlling these habits can make the difference between life and death. The primary focus of treatment is to consistently increase blood supply to the affected body part(s), specifically in the early stages. Sufficient blood circulation will repair the internal tissues and also keep healthy skin. This will assist in avoiding the formation of sores or foot ulcers.

Patients who suffer from ischemia must prevent walking barefoot to reduce their risk of unintentional injury. These patients should wear socks and comfortable shoes most of the time. This will reduce the probability of skin ulcers and lesions from friction and inflammation.

Dr. Cruz can help you obtain much healthier circulation. He works together with other specialists and together they can make the ideal treatment plan for you. There are also medications to prevent the development of problems associated with poor circulation. Medications may also be advised to fight infection and reduce discomfort if you have an infected wound that resulted from poor circulation or ischemia.

In severe situations, or if there is a danger of tissue death (gangrene), surgery may be suggested in an effort to prevent amputation. Surgical treatment is typically performed to get rid of the blockage or bypass the blocked artery prior to undergoing any foot surgery.

Serious blockages in the arteries that resulted in the ischemic foot might be dealt with via a surgical procedure called endarterectomy. This procedure eliminates clusters of plaque from the affected artery.

Your local Brandon Podiatrist has the answer

Your Brandon Podiatrist, Dr. Jairo Cruz Jr, has years of experience in the podiatry field. He can help diagnose and treat any foot or ankle problems you have. To make an appointment at his Brandon office, please call (813) 502-5904. To make an appointment at his Zephyrhills office, please call (813) 782-3233

Dr Marc Katz Marc A Katz DPM Dr. Marc Katz is a podiatrist that previously practiced in South Tampa on Swann Ave with Dr. Jairo Cruz DPM. He works closely with Dr. Cruz to create educational materials to help patients and the community. Dr. Katz is recognized as a leader in the Tampa Podiatry community for over 23 years. Dr. Katz has extensive expertise in all areas of foot and ankle medicine and surgery and is Board-Certified. He was an early adopter and is a leader in Minimally-invasive procedures and Regenerative medicine in the podiatry community. Dr. Katz has had many articles published in podiatry journals discussing his procedures and techniques. In addition, Dr. Katz has advanced training in Functional and Holistic Medicine and Nutrition. He is one of a few podiatrists that has taken advanced courses in Prolotherapy, Neural Prolotherapy and Ozone Therapy. Please enjoy the content and I truly hope that you find great benefit. Dr. Katz can be reached at For more information:

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