AskDefine | Define claudication

Dictionary Definition

claudication n : disability of walking due to crippling of the legs or feet [syn: lameness, limping, gimp, gimpiness, gameness]

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. a temporary cramp-like pain in the calf muscles
  2. a specific limp caused by this pain

Extensive Definition

Claudication, literally 'limping' (Latin), is used as a medical term in various contexts. It is also used figuratively.

Intermittent claudication

Intermittent claudication (Latin: claudicatio intermittens) usually refers to cramplike pains in the legs (usually the calf muscles, but may be in the thigh muscles) caused by poor circulation of the blood to the leg muscles.


The treatment of intermittent claudication is treatment of the vascular insufficiency (inadequate arterial blood supply). The most important step is to stop smoking, and many patients find an almost immediate relief of their symptoms with smoking cessation; exercise is another mainstay of treatment. Medical treatment is often insufficient to relieve symptoms, but does help to prevent the disease from getting worse: patients are usually prescribed medicine to lower risk from cardiovascular disease, such as low-dose aspirin, a statin and an antihypertensive (medication to lower the blood pressure). Surgical treatment is the mainstay for patients with severe disease.


Prognosis for patients with peripheral vascular disease due to atherosclerosis is poor. Patients with intermittent claudication due to atherosclerosis tend to die from cardiovascular disease (e.g., heart attacks), because the same disease that affects their legs is usually present also in the arteries of the heart.

Spinal claudication/ neurogenic claudication

Spinal claudication/ neurogenic claudication is not due to lack of blood supply, but rather it is caused by nerve root compression and/or stenosis of the spinal canal, usually from a degenerative spine, most often at the "L4-L5" or "L5-S1" level. This may result from many factors, such as bulging disc, herniated disc or disc or fragments from previously herniated discs (post-operative), scar tissue from previous surgeries, osteophytes (bone spurs that jut out from the edge of a vertebra into the foramin(the opening through which the nerve root passes), or other causes. In most cases neurogenic claudiation is bilateral, i.e. on both sides, but can also present unilaterally. It may be differentiated from arterial claudication in that it is often only relieved by sitting or lying down, whereas in arterial claudication standing at rest is usually sufficient to relieve the pain; weakness is also a prominent feature of spinal claudication that is not usually present in intermittent claudication. The perceived level of pain from claudication can be mild to extremely severe.

Jaw claudication

Jaw claudication is pain in the jaw or ear while chewing. This is caused by insufficiency of the arteries supplying the jaw muscles. The most common cause is temporal arteritis.

External references

Intermittent claudication


claudication in Portuguese: Claudicação
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