There can be many causes of pain in your lower legs during exercise but one cause is 'Intermittent claudication'. This refers to pain, cramping, weakness, tingling or numbness, in the legs, during exercise, in particular when going uphill. This can be a sign if atherosclerosis (blocked arteries), where the muscles are not getting enough blood supply. You are more at risk if you are; over weight, do not exercises regularly, have diabetes, high blood pressure or high cholesterol.
Always mention this to your healthcare provider. Please be particularly aware if your calves are red, hot or swollen, as this could be a sign of a DVT, requiring urgent medical attention.
Causes of intermittent claudication:
- Atherosclerosis (blocked arteries)
- Lumbar spine stenosis (degeneration of lower back)
- Nerve root compression (where the nerves exit the lower back)
- Peripheral neuropathy (damage to nerves secondary to disease e.g. diabetes)
- Compartment syndrome (swelling of the local area, compressing the nerves)
- Muscle strain
- Baker's cyst (fluid behind knee, due to knee injury)
Ways you can self manage intermittent claudication:
- Exercise regularly
- Eat well
- Lose weight
- Stop smoking
(always seek medical advice for a diagnosis first)
How can Osteopathy help?
Your osteopath will work with you to identify the cause of the intermittent claudication. This may include referring you for imaging, or to your GP for blood tests. An exercise program might be given to you to help improve your symptoms and the blood flow and/or nerve supply to the local area.