Leg Claudication Treated by Vascular Surgeons in Baltimore

Mercy Medical Center

The Vascular Center at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore, Maryland, offers comprehensive care by a skilled group of vascular surgeons. Our doctors are experienced in the diagnosis and treatment of circulatory system disorders including leg claudication.

About the Condition

Leg claudication is pain in the leg caused by too little blood flow during exercise. In most cases, leg claudication is a symptom of peripheral artery disease (PAD). Over time, arteries can become blocked by fatty deposits, or plaque, which limits blood flow into the legs. This can lead to leg discomfort or pain and cramping which is called leg claudication.

NEXT: Symptoms & Diagnostic Process ›
Symptoms & Diagnostic Process

Leg discomfort or pain may not be obvious until later in life and will be affected by a patient’s overall health. Early symptoms of leg claudication are often felt in the calf, but could be felt in the buttocks or thighs as well. Other symptoms beside leg discomfort or pain or cramping may be felt in the leg muscles during activity and include:

  • Numbness
  • Weakness
  • Heaviness
  • Fatigue

These symptoms fade when the legs are resting.  With advanced peripheral artery disease, however, feet and toes may experience these symptoms while at rest. Additional symptoms may include:

  • Increased infections
  • Toe and foot sores that do not heal
  • Redness to the skin or other color changes
  • Feet skin that is cool to the touch

Patients with risk factors including diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, advanced age, smoking or history of heart or vascular disease are often monitored by their primary care physicians for indications of peripheral artery disease (PAD).  Diagnostic tests include:

  • Ankle/Brachial Index - measures blood pressure in the lower legs and in the arms. This screening determines blood flow in these areas and is a common method for detecting leg circulatory problems.
  • Pulse volume recording - measures blood volume changes in the legs. Using blood pressure cuffs, the volume of air within the cuff when blood flows is recorded. Blood pressure is measured before and after the monitoring which helps determine if the issue is vascular or something else.
  • Vascular ultrasound - a non-invasive sound wave test that delivers an image of the blood vessel in the leg identifying blockages.
  • Angiography - an invasive test that uses dye injected into the blood vessels to develop X-ray pictures to determine blood flow and blockages.
  • CT Scans and MRIs - diagnostic tools used in determine peripheral artery disease.
NEXT: Treatment Options ›
Treatment Options

Patients with non-life-threatening blockages can help manage the advancement of peripheral artery disease with some basic lifestyle changes. Quitting smoking, eating a balanced diet, exercising, losing weight and managing health conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes and cholesterol can really help reduce risk factors. Other treatment options include:

  • Medications that help patients with leg claudication and allow them to exercise longer with less pain
  • Angioplasty - an interventional procedure that clears the blocked vessel. Angioplasty with Stent Placement helps support the vessel once it has been cleared
  • Atherectomy removes plaque buildup in the blood vessel and can be repeated during treatment for maximum amount of plaque buildup in the blood vessel.
  • Surgery to reroute blood flow around the blockage