Claudication describes a cramp-like pain felt in one or both calves,
thighs or buttocks on exertion. In severe cases the pain causes the patient to
limp, hence the term claudication and the pain characteristically disappears
when exertion is stopped, hence the term intermittent. The distance a patient
can usually walk on the flat before onset of pain is termed the claudication
distance. Intermittent claudication is caused by peripheral vascular
insufficiency to the muscles of the legs. The disease is in proximal large and
mediumsized arteries to the lower limbs, i.e. the iliac and femoral arteries.
As the narrowing of the arteries becomes more significant, the claudication
distance decreases. Eventually rest pain may occur, this often precedes
ischaemia and gangrene of the affected limb.