Many people mistakenly think that leg cramps are a natural part of getting older. You might be surprised to learn that leg pain which develops during walking and then goes away with rest can be caused by intermittent claudication (IC), a treatable medical condition associated with nerve root compression in the lower back.
Roughly 3 million people deal with IC, most of them over the age of 55. Unfortunately, it’s estimated that almost 75% of those people fail to get medical help, often because they don’t realize that treatment for such leg cramps is available. This isn’t something you just have to live with.
The symptoms of IC may be felt in the calves, thighs, or buttocks, usually as aches, cramps, heaviness, tightness, or numbness. You might feel the sensations in only one leg or in both, and they may occur during walking or exercising. Usually, IC symptoms will fade within minutes of coming to rest.
If you’re experiencing symptoms that sound like IC, it’s important to consult with a physician. IC can be a symptom of peripheral arterial disease (PAD), also known as “hardening of the arteries” or atherosclerosis of the legs. This condition occurs when arteries in the legs (or other areas) become clogged with fatty deposits, and is estimated to affect about 10% of people over the age of 55. People suffering from PAD can have the condition affect other parts of their body, including the heart or brain, where it can become a serious health problem that can lead to heart attack or stroke if left untreated.
So if you’re dealing with leg cramps, don’t just assume it’s because of old age. Come visit us at Bay Area Foot Care for a full check-up and diagnosis, and treatments that may help you walk farther without leg pain.