General Illness Information
Medical Term: Claudication
Description: Muscle fatigue and pain in an extremity, after a period of minimal exertion. Resting the extremity always relieves this. Repeating a similar exercise can reproduce the pain. It is more common in the lower extremity.
Causes: Blockage of an artery in the affected area.
- Stop smoking;
- Lose weight, if obese;
- Routine exercise program;
- Minimize the amount of saturated fats in the diet;
- Reduction of cholesterol levels.
Diagnosis & Treatment
- Diminished or absent pulse;
- Reduced blood pressure at the ankle- usually the pressure at the ankle is 90% of the pressure at the arm flow but with severe narrowing it may be less than 50%;
- Diagnosis can be confirmed by tests, such as Doppler ultrasound, color Doppler and angiography;
- Color Doppler is a more sophisticated ultrasound technique producing a picture of the artery, showing different flow rates in different colors. This test is used much more frequently than angiography because it does not require an injection of radio-opaque dye.
- Stop Smoking;
- Control Hyperlipidemia;
- Start a walking and exercise program;
- Surgical treatment with bypass of the obstructed area may be the treatment of choice in selected cases.
- Low doses of aspirin may be prescribed. Other medications are: Ticlopidine, Trental;
- Special medication to increase blood flow may be prescribed, such as calcium channel blockers;
- Cholesterol lowering medication in patients with elevated cholesterol.
- Daily exercise program. Walking as much as possible (up to 4-5 miles a day), resting if pain or discomfort occurs, and then walk again. Walk on level ground. Keep a log of progress in walking distances;
- Other daily activities performed as normal.
With surgery, the prognosis is good. Surgery is only possible for large vessels, and may be contra-indicated with other serious illnesses. With medications, disease progression may be slowed. A number of cases do not respond to treatment, and there is usually slow progression to tissue necrosis and gangrene.