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Claudication Treatments in Oklahoma 

What is Claudication?

Claudication is muscle pain or cramping in an extremity, usually the legs, that results from insufficient blood flow. It occurs most often in calves, thighs and buttocks. Claudication is generally triggered by lack of oxygen to the muscles. Rather than being a disease itself, claudication is technically a symptom of a broader condition named peripheral arterial disease (PAD). PAD often results from atherosclerosis, an arterial disease in which cholesterol, fat, scar tissue, and other substances clog artery walls and obstruct blood flow. Though the relationship between atherosclerosis, PAD, and claudication isn’t always precise, there is a common progression to them. Blood vessels are clogged due to atherosclerosis, which leads to restricted blood flow in limbs (PAD), which then leads to pain from that restricted blood flow (claudication).

Claudication is often referred to as intermittent claudication because it usually isn’t constant. Most often, pain occurs when sufferers walk for an extended period and subsides after resting. These intervals can change over time as the condition becomes more or less severe.

Typically, claudication only occurs during exercise because limited blood flow is sufficient when at rest. As a result, people with PAD often abstain from exercise, believing it to be the root of the problem. This assumption often causes claudication to worsen.

What are the Symptoms of Claudication?

Claudication is characterized by symptoms like:

  • Pain or muscle cramping that subsides after resting
  • Pain or muscle cramping in the calves, thighs, buttocks, hips, or feet
  • Pain, ache, discomfort, or fatigue in muscles during use
  • Occasionally, pain in the shoulders, biceps, and forearms

Even before resulting in or being diagnosed as claudication, peripheral artery disease will present one or more of the following additional symptoms:

  • Cool skin
  • Wounds that do not heal
  • Skin discoloration
  • Severe, constant pain that results in numbness

High Risk Factors for Claudication

As expected, risk factors for claudication closely match those for both PAD and atherosclerosis.

Claudication risk factors  include:

  • Age – 15-20% of adults over the age of 70 suffer from peripheral artery disease
  • Smoking
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • History of kidney diseases
  • Family history of atherosclerosis, PAD, and/or claudication

How to Prevent Claudication

Preventing claudication means stopping the problem at its source. Without obstructed blood vessels, atherosclerosis will not develop. Without atherosclerosis, PAD and claudication are far less likely.

  • Quit smoking – Tobacco use is the main risk factor for PAD. If you smoke, there is no better way to prevent claudication than to quit.
  • Exercise regularly – If mobility is an issue, start small. Try walking, water aerobics, or stretches. The sooner you make a habit, the easier it will be to maintain. The ultimate goal is to be able to walk for 30 minutes, 3 times a week.
  • Eat healthy – A proper, heart-healthy diet will safeguard you against far more than just PAD and claudication. Try to include many fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Avoid foods high in sodium and artificial sugars. Nuts, seeds, legumes, and other sources of healthy protein are a must.
  • Treat high-risk factors – If you are obese, have high blood pressure, have high cholesterol, or suffer from diabetes, treating these to the best of your abilities will greatly decrease your chances of developing PAD or claudication. Proper diet and exercise will also aid in treating and preventing these other conditions.

Diagnosing Claudication

Diagnosis is dependent on physical examinations, skin evaluations of affected limbs, and blood flow tests. Some specific tests include:

  • Ankle-brachial index (ABI) – measures blood pressure in your arms and compares it to your ankles.
  • Doppler ultrasound – uses a doppler probe within an ultrasound probe to measure direction and speed of blood flow. It bounces sound waves off of red blood cells, then picks up the waves and amplifies them. Typically, faint or nonexistent sounds indicate blockage.
  • Angiogram – takes an X-ray image of blood vessels. A tube is placed into a leg artery, and a contrast dye is injected inside. The dye allows for blood vessels to show up more clearly in the X-ray. Angiogram also allows for treatment of PAD in which intervention such as atherectomy, balloon angioplasty and stenting can also be performed.
  • Exercise testing – determines how far or long you can walk without pain or without unmanageable pain.
  • Segmented blood pressure testing – incrementally measures blood pressure throughout your arm or leg to find the level and location of arterial blockage.

Treatments for Claudication

Because it is exacerbated by activity and rest is often prescribed, claudication can sometimes lead to a cycle of poor cardiovascular health. Treatment for claudication concentrates on relieving pain, preventing tissue damage, improving mobility, and reducing the risk of vascular disease through less painful exercise.

Your doctor will assess your symptoms, test your blood flow, evaluate the skin on your limbs, and conduct a physical exam to determine if you have claudication. A treatment plan may consist of a combination of periodic exercise to rebuild strength and improve the health of your limbs; medication to manage pain, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or other cardiovascular risks; and, in severe cases, surgery such as an angiogram with intervention or traditional open surgery can be required (arterial bypass or endarterectomy).

The team of specialists at CardioVascular Health Clinic is experienced in the diagnosis and treatment of a wide range of vascular pain and disorders. With a patient-centered approach and using the latest technology and methods, our physicians are committed to helping restore your quality of life.

You don’t have to live with pain. Call CardioVascular Health Clinic today at (405) 701-9880 to schedule an appointment or visit our website.

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Testimonials

Professional staff working in a beautiful facility with great doctors who sincerely care about their patients. Without Dr. Schmidt's skill, I would have needed heart bypass surgery instead of a stent. Follow-up has been thorough. I can't recommend them highly enough.
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LeAnn Harner

Dr. Jim Melton and all the staff are fantastic. He is an excellent surgeon and his team is GREAT!!!! I just had surgery at the surgery center, I have only great things to say about my experience. Without him I really don't think I would be here to write this. If you’re looking for a good cardiovascular team, they are a 5 star for sure.

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Susie Brooks Harrison

Dr. Parsons and staff are amazing. He truly listened to me from the consult. Staff showed genuine care for my progress post procedure. I had my follow up appointment today so satisfied with results. Blake made me comfortable from the start. He is an activist for uterine fibroids treatment beyond the standard.

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Tamara Means

Professional and caring staff. Dr. Smith is very knowledgeable and shows genuine concern for your personal health. I enjoyed the background music in the procedure room, it really adds to the relaxing atmosphere.

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David Lambert

Dr. John Schrader is the most personable doctor we know. He stays on top of my dads health care and is genuinely concerned about his health. We never leave his office with questions. He answers them all. Even questions we don’t think of. Always professional but never cold or bad bedside manner. In our opinion he is THE BEST around.
Thank you Dr Schrader.

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Kathy J

I came to Dr. Warren by a self referral for mals when it took me 8yrs 50+ doctors and thousands of dollars spent on no answers. My first visit I was scared I was just going to be gaslighted just like the past however I was pleasantly shocked when Dr. Warren immediately believed me. She took the time to review many disk I had brought from past tests. She never once dismissed me and listened to ever word I had to say. She scheduled one last test to confirm the diagnosis then I was scheduled for surgery right away. Surgery was a success and I can’t thank her and her staff enough. Dr. Warren truly saved my life.

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Angie W

Dr. Garner literally saved my life 18 months ago and I've followed him to his new practice with Cardiovascular Health. He explains things so clearly, listens and is just a very nice person. His staff is great, too! I highly recommend!

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D Watts

Some of the nicest staff that I have ever dealt with!! They have been so incredibly awesome to my mom!! Would definitely recommend them to anyone!! Thank you so much for being so great with her!!

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Christy Garvie

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