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What is Claudication?

Posted on April 10, 2024

What is claudication? This term describes the muscle pain, cramps and sensation of heavy legs associated with the reduced blood flow of Peripheral Arterial Disease. While the pain starts in your legs, it can radiate to the hips, feet and/or buttocks. And, typically, the pain shows up with movement, improving with rest.

woman holding leg beneath the knee

Can Claudication Pain Progress?

If left untreated, claudication pain will likely worsen and flare-up more often. Initial symptoms include heaviness, aching and/or burning pain, as we mentioned earlier. And, initially, that pain will only manifest while you're moving. However, over time, the pain can appear more often throughout the day. In fact, without treatment, claudication could even become a problem at night, especially when you're resting in bed with your legs in a horizontal position.

Over time, the nature of the pain itself could also change. Initially appearing as dull, aching lower calf that may travel to other muscle groups, many people believe the discomfort is the result of overdoing your exercise routine. As such, they don't report their symptoms to a doctor. However, if left untreated, your PAD symptoms could progress, leaving you with severe cramps, numbness, walking challenges, cold skin and the potential for tissue damage. And, if you want your symptoms to improve, you'll need to treat the underlying disease causing the discomfort.

Treating PAD to Relieve Claudication

At Georgia Endovascular, our interventional radiologists treat PAD using minimally invasive procedures. such as stenting, angioplasty and atherectomy. Non-surgical in nature, most won't require that you stay overnight in the hospital. In fact, most patients go home on the same day as their procedures. And, even better? By choosing minimally-invasive procedures such as these, we can usually prevent the need for surgery further down the road.

So, how do these procedures work? Our vein and artery specialists in Georgia insert a small IV and wire through an access point in the groin,  in order to gain access to a blood vessel. From there, we guide that wire into its proper position close to the affected artery. At that point, we will either use a balloon to widen your blood vessel (called angioplasty) or implant a stent that will permanently hold open the artery. Either way, the procedure will boost the flow of blood flow to the lower extremities, relieving claudication symptoms.

Ready to relieve claudication? We're available to provide information and support! Click here to request an appointment today! 

Sources: Johns Hopkins Medicine

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