Claudication: Symptoms and Treatment

Claudication: Symptoms and Treatment | HealthSoul

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.

What is Claudication?

Risk Factors for Claudication

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:

  • Smoking
  • High Cholesterol
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Old Age
  • Family History

Risk Factors for Claudication

Causes of Claudication

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.

Symptoms of Claudication

The symptoms of claudication vary depending on the severity of your condition. They could include the following:

  • Pain During Exercise: Pain may occur in a variety of places on your body, including your thighs, calves, feet, buttocks, or hips.
  • Skin Changes: As your plaque builds up and disrupts your blood flow, you may experience skin discoloration. For example, your extremities may appear bluish, and you may also develop ulcers in your feet, toes, calves, arms, and fingers.
  • Gangrene, in severe cases

Symptoms of ClaudicationDiagnosis of Claudication

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:

  • Ultrasounds
  • Ankle-Arm Index
  • Segmental Blood Pressure Check
  • CT Scans and MRIs

Treatment of Claudication

If your doctor diagnoses you with claudication, they could recommend the following treatment options:

  • Medications: Certain medications, such as aspirin, help prevent blood clots from forming and may help alleviate symptoms related to claudication. Other medications your doctor may prescribe include:
  • Plavix
  • Persantine
  • Ticlopidine
  • Pletal
  • Pentoxifylline
  • Angioplasty: This procedure is often performed to widen damaged arteries with inflatable balloons. Once the surgeon creates enough space, they will place a stent in the space to help keep an artery open, effectively improving blood flow.
  • Vascular Surgery: During this procedure, the doctor will replace or bypass a damaged part of a vessel.

Prognosis of Claudication

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.

Complications of Claudication

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.