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Blockage of leg arteries

  • Definition

    Poor circulation and blockage of blood in the leg arteries produces an aching, tired, and sometimes burning pain in the legs. This pain is brought on by exercise, and relieved by rest. The limping that occurs from leg cramps is called claudication.

    Alternative Names

    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


    This condition may occur in both legs, and the symptoms often get worse 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.

    Common Causes

    This condition is due to atherosclerosis or peripheral vascular disease. Narrowed or blocked arteries can occur anywhere in the body. If they occur in the heart, a person may have heart pain (angina) or even a heart attack. If arteries are blocked or narrowed 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 can occur for many reasons such as smoking, diabetes, and high cholesterol.