A More Serious Cause of Muscle Cramps – PAD

Cramping is a common issue, yet the origins of muscle cramps are relatively unknown. Sometimes cramping is sign of somewhat benign issues such as the lack or hydration or electrolytes. Other times, cramping can be a symptom of more serious problems.

If walking leads to cramping and is accompanied by painful, aching or tired feelings in the legs and is relieved by rest, it may not be just be a simple case of cramping. Instead, it could be an instance of intermittent claudication. Intermittent claudication usually occurs in the calves but may also affect the feet, thighs, hips or buttocks. Intermittent claudication is caused by Peripheral Arterial Disease or PAD. Claudication is a manifestation of reversible ischemia induced by exercise.

As PAD develops, the distance a person can walk without experiencing symptoms may decrease. People with severe PAD may experience pain at rest.  Rest pain is usually experienced at night and intensified by leg elevation and may be reduced with positioning the leg below the heart.

There are several risk factors for PAD including diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and tobacco usage. Additional risk factors include older age, male sex and obesity. People with mild PAD may be asymptomatic.

If you are at risk for PAD, your podiatrist may do a Doppler exam of the distal pulses, like those of your feet, if those pulses cannot be palpated. Your healthcare provider may also do some additional testing such as an ankle-brachial blood pressure index. Depending on the severity of your PAD, your podiatrist may refer you to a vascular specialist for further tests. Call your podiatrist today if you have questions or concerns about cramping or exercise induced pain of your legs and feet.

Please visit our website for more information or call 614-885-3338 (FEET) to schedule an appointment with us at our Columbus, Gahanna or Dublin, OH office.