What is treadmill exercise testing for claudication?


A result from peripheral artery disease (PAD) may be claudication which would be the result of swelling/pain of the lower limbs.  When these issues are present, often times your physician may administer a treadmill test that may help trigger these painful areas to be able to diagnose further.  Following the test, physicians will be able to assist you and recommend further steps that should be taken.

Patients who develop peripheral arterial disease (PAD) can develop symptoms of claudication where they get cramp-like discomfort or soreness in large muscles of the buttocks, thighs or lower legs, especially in the calf area when they walk.

In combination with your physician's physical exam in the office, Doppler studies of the legs can help to determine if you have significant PAD. Treadmill exercise testing can sometimes help to un-mask PAD of the legs when you have claudication.

Joanne Duncan-Carnesciali, CPT,NASM Elite Trainer
Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation
In case you are unaware of what claudication is, claudication is a cramping, painful sensation in skeletal muscles of the lower extremity most commonly related to atherosclerosis in the lower extremities.

When a clinical exercise physiologist performs a treadmill stress test, in addition to evaulating how the patient responds to a bout of exercise, he/she is looking for the signs/symptoms described above that would indicate that the patient is experiencing claudication pain as a consequence of engaging in exercise at a certain intensity level.

This is helpful to the clinical exercise physiologist as he/she knows at what level during the test the patient experiences claudication pain and the clinical exercise physiologist is able prescribe the type of exercise training that will improve the signs or symptoms associated with claudication.

Doctors use treadmill testing to detect peripheral artery disease in patients who have pain in their lower limbs (claudication). During a treadmill test they can evaluate how exercise affects ankle-level blood pressure and analyze the relationship between claudication and vascular function.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.