Intermittent Claudication -- Causes
and Top 7 Natural Remedies
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Last updated October 30, 2017, originally published October 1, 2015

By Louise Carr, Associate Editor and Featured Columnist

Health and fitness articles are reviewed by our team of Doctors,
Registered Nurses, Certified fitness trainers and other members of
our Editorial Board

If you notice an achy, crampy pain when you are walking
exercising it may not be due to the stress of the workout
itself. Intermittent claudication, or simply
"claudication", is
caused by too little blood flow and it usually affects your
Sadly, most people with claudication find it difficult to
walk even 100 meters, about a city block. If pain starts
after you walk for about a city block or two blocks, doctors
often call it "one block claudication" or "two block

As claudication gets worse, you feel the pain even when
you’re resting. While it is often considered to be a disease
(and often confused with deep vein thrombosis),
intermittent claudication is actually a symptom of a
condition – and it is most commonly caused by peripheral
artery disease.

The good news is that, with proper attention, you can treat
claudication and lead an active lifestyle without the leg pain.

What Causes Intermittent Claudication?

In intermittent claudication the arteries that supply your
legs with blood become blocked or narrowed. The muscles
in the legs therefore receive less oxygen, and you feel
cramps and pain when you move the muscles. In severe
cases you feel pain even when the muscles are at rest. The
arteries can become blocked for many reasons, the most
common being peripheral artery disease.

Around 8 million American adults have peripheral artery
, according to the University of Maryland Medical
Center. When you have peripheral artery disease the
arteries supplying blood to the arms and legs are damaged,
usually as a result of atherosclerosis (narrowing and
hardening of the arteries.)

Other conditions that cause the arteries in the legs to
narrow or harden can also cause intermittent claudication,
peripheral neuropathy, spinal stenosis, deep vein
thrombosis, and some musculoskeletal conditions.
You are more at risk of intermittent claudication when you
smoke, have high cholesterol or high blood pressure, are
obese, have diabetes, or have a previous family history of
peripheral artery disease or atherosclerosis.

What are the Symptoms of Intermittent Claudication?

The first symptoms of intermittent claudication come when
exercising. You may feel the pain and discomfort in your
thighs, calves, hips, feet or buttocks, depending on where
the arteries are damaged or narrowed. Sometimes you may
experience intermittent claudication in your arms.

At first the pain will come and go as you alternate between
exercise and sedentary activities, but as the conditions gets
worse you will also feel pain in your legs when you are

Most people who have claudication cannot walk very well
or very far. In fact, pain when you walk, especially in your
calves, is one of the telltale signs of claudication.

Other symptoms include discolored skin when the flow of
blood is severely restricted, and weakness in the limbs.

Is Intermittent Claudication Serious?

In the early stages intermittent claudication can affect your
participation in activities and sport, but if you do not
effectively treat claudication and periphery artery disease it
can lead to complications.

In severe cases your circulation becomes so limited you feel
pain all the time and skin injuries heal poorly, leading to
possible gangrene and limb amputation.

Following a healthy lifestyle and keeping your weight,
blood pressure and cholesterol at a healthy level all help to
avoid the problems connected with narrowed arteries,
including intermittent claudication. We looked for more
ways to treat and prevent intermittent claudication using
natural, scientifically proven, remedies.

Take Ginkgo to Improve Intermittent Claudication

Gingko is proven to help treat intermittent claudication in
many different studies as it helps improve circulation. In a
2000 study by the University of Exeter in the UK gingko
improved pain-free walking in a set of 11 trials concerning
477 patients. And in a 1998 study from GmbH & Co.,
Karlsruhe 111 patients took 120mg of gingko or a placebo.
Patients in the gingko group were able to walk significantly
longer distances without pain than the placebo group.

L-Carnitine Helps Remedy Intermittent Claudication

L-carnitine is a vitamin-like substance and it may help to
improve the symptoms of intermittent claudication by
improving the energy utilization of the muscles in the legs,
according to a 1994 study from Università degli Studi di
Bari, Italy.

A 1999 study from University Federico II, Napoli, Italy
looked at 485 people over 12 months and those with a
severe form of intermittent claudication experienced a 44
percent improvement in walking after taking the

Can Mesoglycan Help Intermittent Claudication?

A substance found in different tissues in the body, called
mesoglycan, has been tested as a remedy for intermittent
claudication. In a 2001 study by the University of Perugia,
Italy significantly more people in the mesoglycan group
experienced more than 50 percent improvement in walking
distance compared to a placebo group.

Taking Inositol Hexaniacinate Helps Intermittent

Inositol hexaniacinate is a form of vitamin B3 in supplement
form, and it could be a good way to treat intermittent
claudication. A 1988 study by O'Hara J, Jolly PN, and Nicol
CG looked at the effects on 100 people of 4g of inositol
hexaniacinate a day.

Compared with placebo, those taking the supplement
improved their walking distance significantly before they
experienced pain.

Arginine as an Intermittent Claudication Remedy

Arginine is a natural amino acid which is a building block
for protein.. Argine can also be found as a supplement and
it is useful for treating intermittent claudication, according
to several recent studies including 2000 research from
Cooke Pharma, Inc., Belmont and a 1998 study from
Hannover Medical School, Germany.

However, one 2007 study from Stanford University School
of Medicine failed to find arginine effective and even noted
that it could actually increase intermittent claudication

Does Sugarcane Policosanol Work Against Intermittent

Some studies from Cuba show that a substance taken from
sugarcane, policosanol, is useful for treating intermittent
claudication. However, the studies completed in 2001,
1999, and 2003 are all from the same place- the Medical
Surgical Research Center, Havana City, Cuba – which has
been linked financially to the product.

Lipoic Acid as an Intermittent Claudication Remedy

A small study in 2007 from the University of Virginia Health
System, Charlottesville demonstrated that lipoic acid helps
improve symptoms of pain related to intermittent
claudication, although the results need to be replicated in a
larger study.   

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Intermittent claudication
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