The Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust

Intermittent Claudication

This is  a pain and or cramping, tired or weak feeling that a person experiences in their legs. It is a symptom of peripheral arterial disease. The risk of Intermittent Claudication increases with age, however it can occur in people who smoke, have diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and obesity.

The doctor will carry out a physical examination which will check the pulses in the arms and legs using a hand held ultrasound and the patient’s blood flow is checked.

The results are used in conjunction with a second test called the ABPI (Ankle Brachial Pressure Index) which compares the blood pressure in the patient’s ankle to their arm. This gives an objective measure of circulation of the lower limbs.

Following this, the doctor may feel it is necessary for further investigations and will advise if appropriate options to cut the risk of intermittent claudication.

Investigations may include:

  • Blood tests
  • Duplex scan (ultrasound)
  • ABPI - Vascular treadmill test
  • MRA (Magnetic Resonance Angiography)


  • Medication: Aspirin, Warfarin (blood thinners), Statins to lower cholesterol
  • Personal changes: Increase in exercise. A 30 minute walk 3-4 times per week is advised
  • Angioplasty: This treatment involves stretching the artery where it is narrowed with a small balloon.
  • By-pass graft: If all else fails this may be the only option to save the limb.