What Is Claudication?

By james
Reviewed: Dr. Gromatzky
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Dull, aching pain and discomfort in your legs during physical activity may be claudication. The name comes from the Latin “claudicare,” which means limping. Pain from claudication may cause you to limp, but not all limping is due to claudication.

Claudication is not actually a disease but a symptom. It results from oxygen deficiency in your muscles due to decreased blood flow. Treatment of the underlying condition that causes the blood flow to decrease should also improve symptoms of claudication.

1. What Causes Claudication?

Claudication is most often a symptom of peripheral artery disease, particularly atherosclerosis. Materials found in your blood, such as calcium, cholesterol, and fat, build up in your arteries over time. The buildup is known as plaque, which can cause the arteries to become hard. As the plaque builds up, it reduces the amount of space inside the vessel for blood to flow.

When the muscles are at rest, they may get enough oxygen to meet their needs even with reduced blood flow. However, the muscles’ oxygen demands increase during physical activity when they are in use. When muscles do not get enough oxygen, the pain that results is claudication.


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