Q: I get leg cramps when I walk. What could be causing this?
Claudication is a condition that causes pain and weakness in the legs during exercise. It's caused by blockages in the arteries that bring blood to your legs. When the blood flow is restricted, the muscles in your legs can't get enough oxygen, and they stop working. This condition is more common in smokers, including marijuana smokers.
Typically, the person can walk for a little while before they suddenly feel a cramp in their leg. The pain will go away if they stop and rest, but if they start moving again, the cramp will come back after they walk about the same distance.
There is an easy test to screen for this, called the ankle brachial index, which compares the blood pressure in your legs to the blood pressure in the rest of your body. Claudication is easy to fix with an angioplasty or stent if it's caught early. But if it's not addressed, poor circulation can lead to more serious problems, like sores on your feet and toes, or ultimately the loss of the limb.
Vascular surgery, General Surgery
Robert H. Connaughton, MD
Maui Memorial Medical Center Outpatient Clinic
85 Maui Lani Parkway
Wailuku, HI 96793