Intermittent claudication is actually a symptom produced while walking. Person suffering from intermittent claudication experiences pain in calf, thigh, or all over the lower limb while walking a short distance. However, the pain gets relieved as the person rests and allows him to walk further. This occurs when the muscles in the leg do not get enough blood while exercising.
Intermittent claudication as mentioned earlier is not a disease but a symptom of an underlying condition. It is mainly a symptom of peripheral artery disease (PAD).
- Excessive smoking.
- High cholesterol in blood
- High blood pressure
- Elderly age group
- Person who smoke, have high cholesterol and high blood pressure and have diabetes.
- Family history of peripheral artery disease.
The classical symptom of intermittent claudication is cramp like pain in calf muscles while walking or constant amount of exercise. Pain is relieved as soon as the patient rests. This symptom develops due to muscle ischemia. It means the muscle do not get enough oxygenated blood. The pain is felt in any muscles of lower limb, but mostly the calf muscles are painful because they are most active during walking. Pain sometimes can also occur in arms if the vessels of arms are narrow. The pain comes during active exercise such as walking even hundred yards. Soon the pain is relieved as you rest. However, with progression of the condition, person may feel pain in legs even while sitting or lying down.
If the flow of blood is extremely sluggish the color of skin of involved extremity changes to pale or blue. In advanced cases where blood flow is severely restricted, patient may develop non healing ulcers in lower leg. Cold feet, numbness and tingling or weakness are some other symptoms that may develop together with pain.
The treatment of intermittent claudication depends on the underlying cause.
If it is caused due to peripheral arterial disease, a meticulous program which consists of change in lifestyle, diet and proper intake of medication is beneficial.
- Patient must stop smoking tobacco.
- Person must restrict fat and cholesterol in his diet.
- Weight reduction
- Take prescribed medicines to reduce high cholesterol level.
- Control diabetes and high blood pressure
- Eat a balance diet.
Exercise is important for patient suffering from intermittent claudication. Patient must walk for 30 to 45 minutes daily for at least 5 days in a week. This improves blood flow in the calf muscles as well as all muscles of lower limb due to increased collateral circulation. There is increase in exercise tolerance as well. Patient must follow this routine for at least six months.
In majority of cases conventional treatment is effective. However, in severe cases surgical intervention may be necessary to improve the circulation.