Claudication (cont.)

Medical Author:
Medical Editor:

How is claudication diagnosed?

Comment on this

A physician will take a history and the diagnosis will be based on the patient's symptoms.

Testing for claudication may include:

  • Ultrasound is most commonly used to determine location and severity of the narrowing in the blood vessels.
  • Ankle-arm index measures the blood pressure at the ankle compared with the blood pressure in the arm. An abnormal result is an indication of peripheral artery disease.
  • Segmental blood pressure measures blood pressure in different parts of the leg (calf, low thigh, high thigh) to detect a blockage that is causing decreased blood flow.
  • Computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance angiography (MRA) are other noninvasive tests that can help a doctor map the blood flow in the affected areas. These tests may be considered if the patient's doctor thinks that a procedure (revascularization) to treat peripheral artery disease may be helpful.

What is the treatment for claudication?

There are two main ways to treat claudication: medication and a surgical treatment, called revascularization.

Medication therapies are often used initially as they are non-invasive. The two most commonly used medications include:

  • Cilostazol (Pletal) reduces the pain of intermittent claudication by widening (dilating) the arteries, thereby improving the flow of blood and oxygen to the legs.
  • Pentoxifylline (Trental) decreases the "stickiness" (viscosity) of blood and thereby improves its flow through arteries. This increases the flow of blood and oxygen to muscles.

There are several drugs being investigated to treat claudication. These medications are not yet approved for use in treating this condition. These medications include:

  • ACE (angiotensin converting enzyme) inhibitors
  • Antichlamydophila therapy –- roxithromycin
  • Propionyl-L-carnitine
  • Defibrotide
  • Prostaglandins

A surgical procedure called a revascularization is used in patients who do not respond to medications. There are two types of revascularization procedures: endovascular (inside the blood vessel) and surgically grafting or bypassing the artery.

  • Endovascular procedures include:
    • Angioplasty: A balloon is placed in the blocked area and inflated to widen the diameter of the artery and increase blood flow
    • Stenting: Wire mesh used to hold a blood vessel open after angioplasty and prevents scar tissue from narrowing the blood vessel
  • Surgical grafting or bypassing an artery involves an open surgery with an incision and sewing in a graft using either the patient's vein or a synthetic tube to increase blood flow around the blocked area.
  • Compression therapy can also be used as a noninvasive way to treat symptoms of claudication. Intermittent calf compression has been shown in studies to improve symptoms-free walking distance.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 4/4/2014

Patient Comments

Viewers share their comments

Claudication - Symptoms Question: What were the symptoms associated with claudication in you or someone you know?
Claudication - Treatment Question: What forms of treatment, including medication or surgery, did you or a relative receive for claudication?
Claudication - Pain Question: Please describe the nature of your claudication pain.
Claudication - Diagnosis Question: How was your claudication diagnosed?