Staying active as we get older is essential to optimal overall wellness. As we age, some people experience cramping in their legs during or after exercising. While this might be attributed to old age, there are several reasons not to ignore it. The cramping may happen after a period of physical activity, or even just after a walk. If you’ve been experiencing discomfort and cramping in your legs, you may have claudication, a sign of other health issues.
Our specialists at Premier Vein & Vascular are led by Saleem Saiyad, MD, an interventional cardiologist with years of experience dealing with vascular issues. Dr. Saiyad and the team are conscious, compassionate practitioners whose focus is a proper diagnosis for your uncomfortable, cramp-prone legs.
Dehydration can cause cramping in any muscle, as can straining your muscles, or holding a position for too long. Claudication, sometimes called intermittent claudication, is slightly different from a normal cramp, but can be just as painful, and could impact your quality of life. Claudication does not have to spell the end of the most active parts of your life, but this new consideration may require treatment.
What causes claudication?
Ultimately, if you have claudication, the most likely culprit is Peripheral Artery Disease, or PAD, which can, itself, be a sign of another chronic condition, like diabetes. Unlike normal cramps, which can be caused by something as seemingly superfluous as low potassium, claudication happens when there is poor circulation to your lower extremities during exercise.
Cramping aside, this condition makes itself known by causing aches in any of your lower extremities - your feet, legs, thighs, or buttocks may be achy, or in pain. If the same muscles that ache or fatigue are always aching and fatigued after activity, you may be experiencing claudication. The key to understanding these concerns is how these vulnerable areas respond to rest. If your aches and cramps dissipate after you’ve had time to rest, you might be living with claudication.
Am I at risk of claudication?
If you’re a person living with another chronic condition, particularly if it affects your cardiovascular system, you could be at risk of developing claudication. Since PAD is usually responsible, the risk factors for claudication include poorly managed PAD, as well as risk factors for PAD itself:
- Smoking, one of the biggest risks for PAD, and numerous other conditions
- Diabetes, which puts you at risk for cardiovascular, vision, and other complications
- High blood pressure, or hypertension, which
- High cholesterol
Any one of these factors places you at greater risk of PAD and claudication. Let us work with you to help you quit smoking, eat healthier, get active, and control your diabetes, if you’re living with diabetes. All of this is essential to protect the health of your legs, feet, and vascular systems as you age.
What can I do about claudication?
If you think you may be experiencing claudication, contact us for diagnosis and treatment. Through a series of tests, and evaluating your medical history, Dr. Saiyad recommends treatments and therapies to keep you going pain-free. Managing the symptoms of claudication isn’t the only way out, though - better management of the chronic conditions that caused your claudication is the solution to keep your future active, and minimize your pain. We’re available for your questions and your concerns at 813-302-7620, or use our online appointment system to book your consultation with Dr. Saiyad today.