Would you know when it’s time to see a vascular specialist? At Maryland Vascular Specialists, we’ve noticed that people sometimes hesitate to make an appointment simply because they don’t quite know whether they need us.
You might be wondering, “Are my symptoms serious enough to see a specialist?” So let’s clarify some key indicators that it’s a good time to go ahead and schedule that appointment. Here are 10 of the top reasons people seek out the expert viewpoint and care of a vascular specialist.
Reason #1: Persistent Leg Pain
Do you have cramping, pain, or a feeling of heaviness in your legs? Does the leg pain persist or does it come and go? Is it worse at certain times of the day or night?
Talk to a vascular specialist about the frequency and characteristics of your leg pain. Leg aching and cramping is one of the most common symptoms that might seem minor, but can actually be a sign that something serious is happening.
For example, an MVS patient named Barry had gradually stopped doing things he used to love, like going on walks and gardening. His leg pain even caused him to stop working as a salesman.
When Barry stubbed his toe and it wouldn’t heal, it was his “Aha!” moment that something bigger might be going on. He quickly made an appointment at MVS and learned he has peripheral arterial disease (PAD) and could have lost his foot if he hadn’t sought care in time.
Reason #2: Pain From an Unknown Cause
As you can see from Barry’s example above, leg and foot pain are often tied together and sometimes an injury triggers an awareness of what’s happening. But please don’t assume that a vascular disorder results only from an obvious injury.
Vascular conditions can arise within the body at any time, regardless of your activities or fitness level. If you have pelvic, abdominal, leg, or foot pain that you can’t attribute to any cause, or that you’ve had for a long time without a diagnosis, it may be time for a vascular workup.
Reason #3: Non-Gynecological Abdominal or Pelvic Pain
Perhaps you have pain in the abdomen or pelvis. You may have stomach pains that get worse while eating, walking, sitting in a chair, or lying flat at night. For women, the pain may worsen during the menstrual period.
Take this pain seriously and don’t brush it off as heartburn, an upset stomach, or period cramps. Talk to your family doctor and/or gynecologist about the pain and they may advise you to seek the input of a vascular specialist.
You could have a condition like abdominal aortic disease, which involves a weakening of the aortic artery that delivers blood to your heart. Or you may have pelvic congestion syndrome, a painful condition that occurs when a vein in the pelvis is bulging or constricted.
Reason #4: Swollen Legs and Ankles
Occasional foot and ankle swelling is usually normal if it’s due to certain causes like walking a long distance or standing for a very long period of time. However, if your foot swelling persists, seek a vascular specialist’s opinion.
Chronic foot and ankle swelling is an early warning sign of numerous conditions, including venous insufficiency, phlebitis, deep-vein thrombosis, or even a failing heart, liver, or kidney. At MVS, we’ve encountered patients who are surprised to discover that their swelling was related to a much more serious health problem than they expected.
Kevin, a 47-year-old tennis player, was healthy and active when he twisted his ankle during a match. Over the next few weeks, his ankle became progressively more swollen despite his use of a walking boot. Kevin’s friends urged him to see a specialist.
At MVS, Kevin learned that he has deep vein thrombosis. It’s a condition that allows clots to form in the blood, deep within the body, raising your risk of a life-threatening stroke. And while Kevin’s swollen ankle alerted him to his condition, many people have DVT with no outward symptoms at all.
Reason #5: Concerns About Varicose Veins
If you have varicose veins, sometimes called spider veins, you might be wondering whether they’re something to worry about. More than 50% of all adults have them and they’re often totally painless and don’t seem to be accompanied by other symptoms.
Varicose veins look bluish or purplish on the skin’s surface, sometimes with knotty bumps and lines that criss-cross the skin. For some people, they’re much more than cosmetic concerns.
Your varicose veins could be a sign that something deeper and more dangerous is going on. This is especially true if they’re accompanied by other symptoms like hardened or discolored skin, a heavy or pulling feeling in the legs, throbbing, cramping, or bleeding.
Talk to a vascular specialist about whether your varicose veins could be associated with a circulatory problem. Ask about diagnostic tests and lifestyle changes that support your health condition.
Reason #6: A Family History of Heart Disease
When it comes to vascular disorders, knowing your family history is extremely important. If there is a family history of developing a certain health condition, you may be at a higher risk of developing it too.
Arteriosclerosis and atherosclerosis, for example, are often thought of as heart disorders, but it’s not just about your heart. A heart condition can have wide-ranging impacts across your body, causing harm to your lungs, brain, neck, legs, arms, and almost any part of the body.
Talk to your doctor about your concerns about heart health. And if you’re not sure about your family health history, now’s a good time to ask any living parents, aunts, uncles, and grandparents about conditions that may be cause for concern.
Reason #7: Non-Healing Wounds
Do you have a wound that just won’t heal? Non-healing wounds often send people to a vascular specialist.
Open wounds are at risk of infection and further damage to the body. But with proper wound care from a vascular specialist, you can begin to heal your wounds and prevent further harm to your body.
Reason #8: A New Diagnosis
Were you recently diagnosed with a new health challenge like a heart condition or diabetes? You may need the input of a vascular specialist to determine the extent of damage to your body and to recommend treatment options.
For example, diabetes comes with common vascular challenges. Your vascular specialist can alert you to these issues and ensure you’re fully informed about your health status.
Reason #9: You Need Expert Advice About Prevention
Imagine that one of your parents had a fatal stroke in their 50s and you want to limit the possibility of the same happening to you. Now what?
Make it a priority to seek a workup from a vascular specialist who can perform tests that reveal the state of your vascular wellness. With a proper diagnosis, you can consider lifestyle changes that could improve your health outlook or even save your life.
For example, let’s say you have swollen legs and a family history of May-Thurner Syndrome. In this situation, the vascular specialist may provide therapy options for non-healing wounds and recommend lifestyle changes that support your condition. If you are overweight, they may suggest exercise and diet changes that are compatible with your health status.
There may also be medications and minimally-invasive treatment options to explore. As you can see, a vascular specialist is there to provide a wealth of options that allow you to live and thrive with your condition.
Reason #10: You Need a Second Opinion
Sometimes you just need a second opinion. Perhaps your family doctor or gynecologist isn’t able to provide insight into your symptoms. Maybe you’ve been bouncing around between different doctors without getting a clear diagnosis.
Maryland Vascular Specialists are here to help. We invite you to read When Should You See a Vascular Specialist? to learn even more about whether a vascular specialist could shed light on your situation.
At MVS, we offer the best in vascular care to our patients, plus we have many convenient locations throughout Maryland and southern Pennsylvania. We employ modern non-invasive diagnostic procedures with highly accurate results.
We pride ourselves in providing patient-centered care. Please reach out to us today to schedule an appointment and see how a vascular specialist could help you seek the best possible health outlook.