What is Claudication?

20 Dec What is Claudication?

Claudication: What You Need To Know

Do you have lingering aches after a workout or a hard day of work? It’s normal to experience some muscle soreness after physical exertion, but lingering, intense pain is something else. If exercise or physical labor leaves your legs in constant pain, you could have the early signs of claudication.

What Is It?

Claudication is a pain in your legs caused by low blood pressure to your leg arteries.

Intermittent claudication begins during exercise and ends when you stop walking or moving. If your pain persists after you stop exercising, you may have chronic claudication.

You may experience:

• Aches and pains every time you use your muscles
• Sharp pain in the legs, hips or feet
• Pain in your arms and shoulders

Should You Be Concerned About Claudication?

There are several reasons to be concerned about lingering or intermittent muscular pain. Lingering pain is a sign that your muscles can’t recover after exercise.

This pain can have long-term effects on your health. Many people stop exercising because it hurts too much. Over time, this lack of exercise makes the blood flow problem worse. A sedentary lifestyle worsens your cardiovascular health and your overall wellbeing.

Another reason is that untreated pain may lead to serious complications.

Complications of Claudication

Claudication is one of the early signs of peripheral artery disease. If you have this condition, your arteries can’t pump enough blood to your limbs.

Peripheral artery disease is usually caused by atherosclerosis, which refers to high levels of cholesterol, fat, and plaque on your arteries. If you have atherosclerosis, you are at increased risk of heart disease or stroke.

Symptoms of Claudication

In its first stages, claudication may cause pain, burning, cramping, aching, or a sense of heaviness. This pain generally begins in the calf muscles and then travels to the feet, thighs, buttocks, and hips.

If you ignore these warning signs and continue working or exercising, you may experience more advanced symptoms. These include:

• Muscle numbness
• Severe cramps
• Soft tissue damage
• Temporary lameness
• Weak pulse
• Difficulty walking

Untreated atherosclerosis can lead to severe circulatory problems that include skin lesions, muscle death, tissue gangrene, and limb amputation.

Who Is at Risk for Claudication?

• Athletes
• People whose jobs involve physical labor
• Anyone who regularly lifts or moves heavy objects
• People who continue to “play through” the pain they feel when exercising or playing sports

Claudication is caused by reduced blood flow in the arteries of the legs and lower body. That reduced blood flow may be the result of several factors, including:

• Underlying atherosclerosis
• Smoking
• Diabetes
• Sedentary lifestyle
• Obesity
• Genetic predisposition
• Being age 65 to 75
• High cholesterol

Can You Prevent Claudication?

The best way to prevent it is to adopt a healthy lifestyle.

• 1. If you smoke, quit.
• 2. Maintain a healthy weight.
• 3. Stay active, and exercise regularly.
• 4. If you have diabetes, get your blood sugar under control.
• 5. Lower your cholesterol and blood pressure levels.

When To See a Doctor

You should always talk to your doctor about unusual or lasting pain. If you have an underlying condition that might predispose you to artery problems, it’s especially important to get medical advice. If your legs or feet hurt, make an appointment with a podiatrist.

At Shuman Podiatry & Sports Medicine, we offer innovative diagnostics and evidence-based treatments in a warm, caring environment. We treat all foot and lower leg conditions. Call us for an appointment today.

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