Intermittant Claudication

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Many people suffer from intermittent leg pain and cramping with activities such as walking, climbing stairs or standing for prolonged periods. There are many different causes and contributing factors that may have an effect on the onset, nature and irritability of the leg symptoms which may be attributed to many diagnostic medical, degenerative or physical problems.

Degenerative changes within the circulatory or spinal neurological systems may lead to symptoms suggestive of intermittent claudication. Claudication can be attributed to either vascular or neurogenic. Both conditions are outlined below:

Intermittent Vascular Claudication:

Also known as arterial claudication, vascular claudication causes a gradual increase in pain and cramping in the legs and buttocks following short or long periods of walking, climbing stairs and other activities involving the legs. This condition is due to poor blood supply and inadequate circulation to the lower extremities. It is normally associated with degenerative changes within the circulatory system and narrowing of the arteries (atherosclerosis & arteriosclerosis). Symptoms are normally relieved by standing or resting from the aggravating activity. Those who suffer from diabetes are also at risk.

Spinal Neurogenic Claudication:

Spinal claudication is caused by spinal nerve root compression or spinal stenosis (narrowing of the spinal canal). The causes of nerve root compression may be due to degenerative changes within the spine, slipped disc or scar tissue. The effects are normally associated with leg and calf pain following periods of walking or standing. Symptoms may be controlled be resting in a sitting position or resting in a forward bending position whilst standing allowing the lumbar spine to flex.


Onward referral to a specialist or GP may be required to investigate the extent of the problem and to assist with the management of the condition. Physiotherapy and rehabilitation may be recommended to help relieve and control the symptoms. A skilled physiotherapist may also provide a graded exercise programme and exercise modification.

Please feel free to contact the Manchester G4 Clinic to speak to a member of the team for any questions that you may have.

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