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Calf pain on walking

12/22/2009 - Questions and Answers

Calf pain on walking

By: Novoviva webmaster

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Question

I get a bad pain in my left calf if I walk any distance more than a few yards. The doctor says it's due to aging arteries and there's nothing I can do.

Will it get worse? Can you tell me more?
 

Answer

The problem you have is called 'intermittent claudication', and it's due to atherosclerosis in the arteries supplying blood to your legs. You don't give us your age, but pain, tension and weakness, which intensifies until walking becomes impossible but disappears on resting, is estimated to affect 2% of people over 65.The condition is called peripheral arterial disease, or PAD. The actual process is similar to that in coronary artery disease which causes angina. It can be diagnosed by measuring the difference between the blood pressure in the arm versus that in the ankle. We assume your doctor will have checked you for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and type 2 diabetes.
 

Changing your lifestyle can stop atherosclerosis, or at least slow its progression. By this we mean controlling (or losing?) weight, eating plenty of fruit, grains, vegetables, and fish, but little or no saturated fat, and absolutely no smoking. Stopping smoking in PAD is absolutely essential!
 

Although the pain comes when you walk, exercise is a good therapy. PAD tends to steadily worsen, as you can probably see by the way the distance you can walk pain-free becomes less and less. Walking regularly 3 times a week for as long as possible has been shown to slow the progress of lower artery disease. You should aim to reach a total of 30 minutes of walking (stopping at intervals for pain to subside), if possible; consult with your doctor or a physical therapy department if you can.
 

The links below will help you learn more.
 

Related Links
Exercise and Intermittent Claudication
Diagnose Me: Intermittent Claudication

Created on: 03/06/2006
Reviewed on: 12/22/2009

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