We use the word claudication to describe muscle pain, cramps and a heavy, tired feeling in your legs. Soon after symptoms first appear, your pain may radiate to your hips, feet or buttocks. But this pain isn’t random: it usually appears when you move and disappears with rest. Also, it’s usually a result of reduced blood flow to your lower limbs. For this reason, many patients with Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD) experience claudication.
How Does Claudication Progress?
Without treating the underlying cause of your claudication, your symptoms and flare ups will likely get worse over time. In the early stages of claudication, your symptoms may also include aching, burning and heaviness. But the way you experience that pain will change over time.
At first, claudication causes a dull, aching pain in the lower calf. The initial pain or sensation can also travel to, or develop in, other muscle groups, such as your thigh, buttocks, hip or feet.
Now, these symptoms usually appear with muscle movement, like walking or exercise. So it’s easy to brush them off as the sign of pushing yourself too hard. This is especially true since, thankfully, they usually resolve with a few minutes of rest. If, however, people continue exercising through the pain of claudication, they may experience a number of unpleasant symptoms. These include numbness, severe cramps, difficulty walking, cold skin and even soft tissue damage.
Usually, claudication only affects one leg; if it impacts both, symptoms are usually worse in one leg than the other. Over time, these symptoms typically become more severe. The only way to improve your condition is to treat the underlying cause.
Treating Claudication and PAD
At Texas Endovascular, treating PAD with state of the art, minimally invasive procedures. Most of our treatments— which include Angioplasty, Stenting, and Atherectomy–don’t require an overnight hospital stay. Using these methods, we prevent the need for surgery in most cases, often allowing our patients to go home the same day as their procedure.
During your procedure, one of our Houston area vein specialists will insert a small IV and wire through your groin, gaining access to a blood vessel. From there, we use imaging to guide that wire into a position where it can impact your affected artery. Depending on the progression of your PAD, we will use a balloon to widen the blood vessel (angioplasty) or a stent to hold it open; both options will increase blood flow to your lower extremities, and should relieve your claudication symptoms.
Sources: Johns Hopkins Medicine