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08.26.22

Caring for Claudication: Symptoms, Risk Factors, and Treatment

For many of our patients, the first sign they are dealing with arterial disease is claudication

Claudication is pain caused by too little blood flow to muscles during exercise. Most often, this pain occurs in the legs after walking at a certain pace and for a certain amount of time — depending on the severity of the condition.

The condition is also called intermittent claudication because the pain usually isn’t constant. It begins during exercise and ends with rest. As claudication worsens, however, the pain may occur during rest.

Claudication is technically a symptom of disease, most often peripheral artery disease, a narrowing of arteries in the limbs that restricts blood flow.

If you are dealing with limb pain while you move, we encourage you to speak with your primary care provider. 

Or, reach out to the Ozark Regional Vein & Artery Center. Our treatments focus on lowering the risks of vascular disease, reducing pain, increasing mobility, and preventing damage to tissues.

Claudication 101

So, let’s dive a little deeper. Claudication refers to muscle pain due to lack of oxygen that’s triggered by activity and relieved by rest. 

Claudication symptoms include the following:

  • Pain, ache, discomfort, or fatigue in muscles every time those muscles during use
    • Specifically, pain in the calves, thighs, buttocks, hips, or feet

This pain usually gets better soon after resting, but that won’t necessarily be permanent.

The pain may become more severe over time. In more severe cases of arterial decline, some patients even experience pain at rest.

Signs or symptoms of peripheral artery disease, usually in more-advanced stages, include:

  • Cool skin
  • Severe, constant pain that progresses to numbness
  • Skin discoloration
  • Wounds that don’t heal

Treating Claudication

Many people with serious arterial disease have poor diets and minimal opportunities for regular exercise. Providing them the nutrients and physical resources necessary to keep their body in fighting shape can make it easier to combat gangrene and claudication.

claudication symptoms

As Dr. Stout explains: “without necessary dietary resources, the body can’t heal and prevent further degradation.” While this may seem like an obvious solution, it’s not that simple. This is because attention is usually focused on symptom-specific relief, not comprehensive care when treating patients. With the Ozark Regional Vein & Artery Center, your care doesn’t just focus on tackling claudication symptoms.

Conservative Care Strategies

Here are a few activities you can do to improve arterial health and overall circulation:

1. Avoid Smoking.

Smoking is one of the worst things you can do for your vascular system, so our first piece of advice is to stop smoking immediately. Smoking contributes to plaque buildup in the arteries, meaning it’s a major risk factor for developing arterial disease and decreasing quality of life.

2. Exercise

Exercising is a great way to improve vascular health, as it keeps blood flowing and prevents further plaque buildup. Walking and cardiovascular exercise are incredibly beneficial, but anything that elevates your heart rate is good. You should make a point of exercising once a day or as much as is feasible.

3. Eat Healthier

Diet is a major contributing factor to arterial disease. Foods high in cholesterol are a major cause of plaque buildup and increased blood pressure, so eating healthy is important in improving your health: more fruits and vegetables, less red meat and dairy. You should also make sure to eat smaller portions in individual sittings to reduce stress on your circulatory system.

4. Lose Weight

This is the most challenging item. Being overweight can strain your circulatory system, which requires more work to move blood around your body. Losing weight is vital to improving circulatory function and vascular health.

5. Monitor Your Health 

Routine health screenings and physicals are critical to maintaining your overall physical health but can be especially useful for identifying and mitigating arterial disease. Make sure to check your blood pressure and cholesterol levels regularly to keep tabs on your arterial health!

Note: It’s important to remember that none of these behaviors should replace consulting a healthcare provider or vascular specialist if you are worried about your vascular health.

Surgical Intervention

In addition to conservative care, surgical care is also a vital part of preventing severe arterial disease from getting worse. Angioplasty and Stenting, Atherectomy—these techniques can supplement lifestyle changes to reduce pain and improve vascular disease at its source. 

Claudication Support For Everyone In Need!

If you need support tackling claudication symptoms and causes or arterial disease, turn to the Ozark Regional Vein & Artery Center. Our experience and constantly expanding suite of care options enable us to guide you toward lasting wellness solutions.

We are a premier practice in Northwest Arkansas for the highest-quality vein and artery treatments. Dr. Haney, Dr. Stout, and the expert staff have over 500 years of combined experience caring for patients’ vascular well-being.

You can count on the Ozark Regional Vein & Artery Center to provide effective solutions for tackling your claudication symptoms and causes. No matter your needs or care resources, we will work with our patients to achieve optimal care results each and every time. 

So, if you’re concerned about your vascular well-being, check out our Virtual Vein Screening Tool or schedule a consultation!

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