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Blockage of leg arteries
Alternative namesBlockage of leg arteries results from poor circulation of blood in the leg arteries. This produces an aching, tired, and sometimes burning pain in the legs that is brought on by exercise, and relieved by rest. Claudication refers to the limping that occurs from leg cramps .
ConsiderationsIntermittent claudication may occur in both legs, and it often continues to worsen over time. However, some people complain only of weakness in the legs when walking, or a feeling of "tiredness" in the buttocks. Impotence is an occasional complaint in men. Pain at rest is uncommon.
This condition is due to narrowing or blockage of the arteries ( atherosclerosis or arteriosclerosis obliterans - peripheral vascular disease ). Blockage of arteries can occur anywhere in the body. If they occur in the heart, a person may experience angina or even a heart attack. If they occur in the neck or the brain, a person may have a stroke.
Intermittent claudication is when the blockage occurs in the legs, most commonly in the calf or the foot. It occurs only at certain times, such as after a period of walking and is relieved by rest.
Atherosclerosis, or blockage of arteries, can occur for many reasons such as smoking, diabetes, and high cholesterol.
Talk to your doctor about the cause of your leg cramping and about what to do at home to relieve it. A healthy diet is important to decrease progression of atherosclerosis.
A program of daily walking for short periods, and stopping for pain or cramping, may help improve function. It is essential to stop smoking.
Call your health care provider if
There are many other causes of leg pain such as arthritis or low blood potassium. However, some causes of leg pain may be life threatening such a blood clot in the legs. Seek medical attention if you have:
The medical history will be obtained and a physical examination performed.
Medical history questions documenting claudication in detail may include:
Diagnostic tests that may be performed include:
Surgical or angioplastic treatment may be recommended if claudication interferes with the patient's essential activities or work, and if the diseased arteries appear likely to improve after corrective treatment.
After seeing your health care provider:
If a diagnosis was made by your health care provider related to cramping leg pain, you may want to note that diagnosis in your personal medical record.
Update Date: 10/29/2003Jeffrey Everett, M.D., Department of Surgery, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.
Last updated: Tue, 06 Jan 2009 00:20:03 GMT