Peripheral artery disease; Claudication; Intermittent claudication; Vaso-occlusive disease of the legs; Arterial insufficiency of the legs; Recurrent leg pain and cramping; Calf pain with exercise
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 keep atherosclerosis from getting worse.
A program of daily walking for short periods, and stopping for pain or cramping, may help improve function. You MUST stop smoking.
Avoid placing hot or cold items on legs. Avoid tight shoes.
Have your doctor check any non-healing wounds on the lower legs and feet.
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:
- Leg pain that does not go away
- Legs that are red, hot or swollen
- Chest pain or shortness of breath with leg pain
- If you are pregnant
What to expect at your health care provider's office
Your health care provider will perform a physical examination and ask questions about your cramping leg pain and other symptoms, such as:
- Do you have leg cramps at night?
- How often does leg pain with cramping occur?
- Is it getting worse?
- Is the pain sharp?
- Is there an aching pain with the cramps?
- Is it worse after you exercise?
- Is it worse after you are standing?
- Do you smoke? How much?
- Do you drink alcohol? How much?
- Are you diabetic? How well is your blood sugar controlled?
- What other symptoms are also present?
- Has there been impotence (men)?
- Is there
pain in the back?
- Is there a darkening of the skin of the legs, feet, or toes?
- Is there weakness or
paralysisof the legs?
The provider may check the
The following tests may be performed:
Blood pressuremeasured in arms and legs for comparison
Doppler ultrasonographyon the legs and the heart
Duplex Doppler/ultrasound exam of extremityto see how blood flows through arteries
ECGto check the activity of your heart
Aortographyto see blockages in your large arteries
Surgery or angioplasty may be recommended if claudication interferes with the patient's activities or work, and if the diseased arteries are likely to improve after corrective treatment.
Review Date: 08/11/2005
Reviewed By: Joseph P. Hart, M.D., Marco Polo Traveling Fellow c/o Department of Vascular Surgery, A. Z. St. Blasius Hospital (Belgium). Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.