Claudication is a condition that refers to cramping and pain in the legs, often caused by poor blood flow. It’s most often felt while walking or taking part in some other type of physical activity and eases up a bit during periods of rest. It’s important to note that claudication itself is normally a symptom of a larger medical problem or disease, and it isn’t limited to the legs. In fact, the condition may also affect your arms and even your jaw.
Claudication has a few factors to keep an eye out for that may indicate if you’re at an increased risk for developing the condition. These risk factors include the following:
As is common with many medical conditions, claudication occurs a few different ways. One of the most common causes of this particular condition is peripheral artery disease, also known as PAD. If you have PAD, the arteries supplying blood to your limbs may suffer due to a buildup of cholesterol plaque. When large amounts of plaque build up over time, it limits the amount of oxygen delivered to your blood supply during physical exercising or walking. When this happens, you’re likely to experience cramping.
The symptoms of claudication vary depending on the severity of your condition. They could include the following:
If you think you may have claudication, visit your doctor for a checkup. During your appointment, your doctor will perform a physical examination and might order additional tests to make a proper diagnosis. Some of the tests they could order include:
If your doctor diagnoses you with claudication, they could recommend the following treatment options:
Unfortunately, the prognosis for patients with claudication is poor. If you have claudication, it’s important to heed your doctor’s treatment advice and consider making healthier lifestyle choices. For example, if you sit a lot during the day for your job, try to move around more during the day to get your blood flowing.
If left untreated, claudication may result in complications, including limited circulation in your arms or legs. In severe cases, ulcers may develop or gangrene may set in, requiring amputation.