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Limb ischemia is an obstruction of the arteries that seriously decreases blood flow to the extremities (hands, feet and legs) and has progressed to the point of severe pain and even skin ulcers or sores. Limb ischemia is often present in people suffering from severe cases of peripheral arterial disease (PAD).
Limb ischemia may be due to an acute condition such as an embolus or thrombosis, but most cases are the progressive result of a chronic condition, most commonly atherosclerosis, also known as hardening of the arteries.
Risk factors for limb ischemia are:
The primary symptom of limb ischemia is called ischemic rest pain, which is severe pain in the legs and feet while a person is not moving. Ischemic rest pain is typically described as a burning pain in the arch or distal foot that occurs while the patient is recumbent but is relieved when the patient returns to a position in which the feet are dependent.
Other symptoms may include:
Your doctor will need to identify and locate the cause of blockages associated with limb ischemia. This may be done using one or more of the following methods:
Limb ischemia is a serious condition that requires immediate treatment to re-establish blood-flow to the affected area. The recommended treatment will depend on the location and severity of the blockages. The primary goal is to preserve the limb.
In some cases, minimally invasive endovascular therapy is an option. These procedures include:
If the arterial blockages cannot be treated with endovascular therapy, your doctor may recommend surgery. Surgical intervention includes:
Patients with limb ischemia require life-long follow-up.