Claudication can be cramping pain or weak feeling that occurs in your legs because of poor circulation. The symptoms typically begin when you start to exercise and go away a short time after you rest.
Claudication is caused by the arteries in your legs not receiving enough blood and oxygen (this lack of oxygen is known as ischemia). This happens because the arteries in your legs may be narrowed or blocked. It is critical to recognize claudication, because it is a serious warning symptom of an increased risk for heart attack and stroke.
Some of the typical symptoms of claudication include:
- Discomfort or pain in your legs that happens when you walk and goes away when you rest (also called intermittent claudication)
- Tightness, heaviness, cramping, or weakness in one or both of your legs
Claudication is a symptom of peripheral arterial disease (PAD), which is caused by atherosclerosis.
Risk factors for atherosclerosis include:
- Smoking, or a history of smoking
- High cholesterol levels in the blood
- High blood pressure
- Family history of heart or vascular disease