What Is Vascular Claudication?
Vascular Claudication is a pathological condition that arises out of a dysfunctional circulatory system where there is insufficient blood flow to certain parts of the body, especially the lower extremities. The primary reason for the development of Vascular Claudication is hardening of the arteries in the lower extremities. This is a condition called atherosclerosis usually associated with the arteries of the heart.
The hardening of the arteries results in accumulation of fatty deposits present in the blood. As there is gradual buildup of fatty material within the arteries, the space for the blood to travel through the arteries becomes less and less resulting in symptoms of pain and cramping which are the primary presenting features of Vascular Claudication.
In fact, Vascular Claudication is a sign of an indwelling condition called peripheral arterial disease rather than a medical condition itself. The symptoms of this condition resolve as soon as the affected individual gets up and moves around which creates more space for the blood to pass through the arteries which get blocked causing Vascular Claudication.
What Causes Vascular Claudication?
The primary reason for the development of Vascular Claudication is the hardening and narrowing of the arteries of the lower extremities as a result of buildup of fatty deposits carried by the blood along the walls of the arteries. This condition is called atherosclerosis and the restriction of the blood flow is called as peripheral arterial disease which is the primary cause of the development of Vascular Claudication.
What Are The Symptoms Of Vascular Claudication?
The primary presenting feature of Vascular Claudication is pain and cramping in the legs. This pain can be sharp, dull, aching or burning. The amount of blockage, the location of the block, and the muscle activity determine the severity of the symptoms of Vascular Claudication.
In Vascular Claudication, Cramping is mostly felt in the calf. The reason behind this is that plaque formation normally begins in the arteries that are farthest from the heart. In case if the blockage is in the area just above the knee then the pain will be felt in the thigh region. Symptoms may be felt in the groin in case the blockage is in the aorta resulting in Vascular Claudication.
How Is Vascular Claudication Diagnosed?
In most cases, Vascular Claudication remains undiagnosed as individuals feel the pain to be as a result of aging or overactivity since the symptoms go away with resting.
Thus, at most they reduce the amount of work that they do which usually results in the reduction of the symptoms.
There are a series of tests that will be performed to confirm the diagnosis of Vascular Claudication and these are:
- Checking the pulses in the lower extremities
- Measuring the Ankle-brachial index
- Doppler ultrasound which will be abnormal in cases of Vascular Claudication
- MRI or CT scan over the area of the pain which will clearly show narrowing of the arteries and confirm the diagnosis of Vascular Claudication
How Is Vascular Claudication Treated?
Treating peripheral arterial disease can go a long way in reducing the symptoms of Vascular Claudication. Treating peripheral arterial disease does not only reduce the symptoms but also prevents any worsening of the symptoms.
A diligent exercise program and lifestyle modifications like quitting smoking and moderating alcohol consumption also helps to treat the symptoms of Vascular Claudication.
Some of the measures adopted by physicians to treat Vascular Claudication are:
Medications: Utilizing medication like aspirin reduces the chance of blood clots forming as a result of Vascular Claudication. Plavix and Persantine may also be given for this purpose. Pletal is a medication that improves blood circulation and reduces the symptoms of Vascular Claudication. At times, statins may also be used for lowering the cholesterol levels and prevent any arterial blockages which results in Vascular Claudication.
Angioplasty: In cases where the symptoms of Vascular Claudication are quite serious where the affected individual is not able to carry out activities of daily living as a result of the symptoms then the physician may recommend a procedure called as angioplasty.
In this, procedure, the narrowed artery is widened with the use of narrow tubes and has an inflatable balloon at the tip of the tube which is inflated at the site of the narrowing thus widening the artery and allowing blood to flow through the artery smoothly. Once the artery is wide enough to allow blood to pass through easily then a stent will be placed to keep the artery wide.
Vascular Surgery: This procedure is performed in severe cases of Vascular Claudication. In this procedure, the physician takes a healthy blood vessel from another part of the body and replaces it with the diseased blood vessel or artery which allows free flow of blood through the blocked area of the body and relieves the symptoms of Vascular Claudication.
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