Intermittent Claudication

What is Intermittent Claudication?

Intermittent claudication is a cramping pain in the calves, thighs, and buttocks that is caused by a circulation problem in the lower extremities resulting in inadequate blood flow. It is a common symptom of peripheral artery disease (PAD). Intermittent claudication causes the affected limb or body part to feel weak or numb due to a lack of oxygen. This can lead to difficulty walking or standing for long periods of time.

Causes of Intermittent Claudication

Intermittent claudication is caused by a narrowing of the arteries due to an accumulation of fatty deposits (plaque). This narrowing forces the blood to flow through a smaller area and reduces the amount of oxygen and nutrients that can reach the affected area.

Other possible causes of intermittent claudication include:

  • Smoking
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Inactivity
  • History of blood clots

Symptoms of Intermittent Claudication

The main symptom of intermittent claudication is a cramping pain in the calf, thigh, or hip during activity. This pain may feel like a burning sensation or a tight band-like sensation and may be accompanied by numbness or weakness in the affected area. These symptoms occur when the muscles are under strain, such as during walking or running, and may last for several minutes.

Treatment of Intermittent Claudication

Treatment for intermittent claudication focuses on managing and reducing the underlying causes of the condition. Treatment usually includes lifestyle changes, such as quitting smoking, exercising regularly, and eating a balanced, healthy diet. Medication may also be prescribed to help lower cholesterol and/or blood pressure. In more severe cases, surgery may be necessary to widen the affected arteries.