How do I know if my leg cramps are due to a vascular problem?

Most of us experience some form of leg cramping at one time or another, and quite often it is nothing. But how would we know if leg cramps are due to a vascular problem that requires treatment?

I see many people who experience unexplained sudden cramping, usually at night. Such cramping can affect people of all ages, although it occurs more commonly in older people. People may ask their primary care doctors about this pain and, if it continues for several months or more, may find themselves in my office.

Symptoms of venous insufficiency may include skin color changes, swelling, varicose veins, history of blood clots in the patient or in family members, ulcerations near the inner ankle and other changes in the quality of the skin. Symptoms of arterial narrowing may include claudication (leg cramping while walking), as well as coronary artery disease, stroke, mini­stroke and any past or present signs of arterial blockages in the legs.

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