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Intermittent Claudication: Cramps from Poor Circulation

Trying to squeeze a large crowd, a tube of frosting, or even lots of water through a small opening can be a challenge. Narrow exits only allow a little through at a time, creating a “bottle neck” that backs everything up and prevents much from getting through. This effect can range from helpful, like a frosting nozzle to create cake designs, to frustrating, like a traffic jam, to dangerous, like a loss of circulation to your lower limbs. Circulation problems can lead to issues like intermittent claudication, causing cramping feet and legs.

Plugging the Flow

Cramps from poor circulationIntermittent claudication is a problem with restricted blood flow to an area of your body, particularly your limbs. It’s actually a symptom of a larger problem, rather than its own disease—it’s a sign that your arteries are becoming blocked from something like peripheral arterial disease. Fatty deposits in your arteries partially block and stiffen the blood vessel walls. As a result, not enough blood is able to reach your limbs when you need oxygen and nutrients. You develop painful muscle cramps when you’re active and other problems as a result.

In the long term, this can be quite damaging to your lower limbs. Your feet and legs need sufficient oxygen and nutrients to function. Not only can circulation problems be painful, but they can lead to other serious complications. You may be more prone to slow-healing skin ulcers and infections. If your lower limbs lose too much circulation for an extended period of time, you even risk tissue death.

Signs Your Feet Need More Blood Flow

The biggest sign that you may have intermittent claudication is a problem with cramping feet and legs, particularly when you are active or exercising. This is because your active muscles and other tissues aren’t able to get the oxygen and energy they need to be active, so they cramp up. As the condition worsens, you may notice the pain developing even when you participate in or perform less strenuous activities. You might notice lower limb weakness, tingling, and a burning sensation as well.

The worse the blockages in your arteries become, the worse the symptoms will grow. You may notice the skin on your feet or legs becoming discolored or feeling cold to the touch. You might be more prone to skin injuries or slow-healing ulcers as well. In advanced cases, you may find that your lower limbs ache even when you are sitting or lying down.

How You Can Get Your Blood Pumping

The best way to treat intermittent claudication is to treat the underlying cause of the problem: your partially blocked arteries. Treatments for peripheral arterial disease go hand-in-hand with addressing your cramping feet and legs. Depending on your unique situation, this may involve medications or even more invasive treatment methods.

There are other ways to help manage your discomfort, though. Dr. Noah Levine will work with you to help craft a plan to take care of your lower limbs and improve your circulation. The most important step will be to exercise safely. Although activities do trigger cramping, exercise also boosts circulation. It forces your body to pump your blood harder to reach your extremities, as well as teach your muscles to use oxygen more efficiently. Over time, this reduces your discomfort. Make sure you choose well-fitting shoes and avoid lower limb injuries as best you can, however. Most likely you’ll need to change some habits as well, including eating more healthily and giving up things like smoking.

Cramping in your feet and legs from intermittent claudication shouldn’t hold you back from doing what you love. With the right care and lifestyle changes, you can keep your circulation up and your lower limbs strong. Don’t wait until you can barely walk without pain to get help. Contact Absolute Foot Care Specialists for more information or an appointment today to take care of your body and your life. You can reach our Las Vegas offices online or by calling (702) 839-2010.