A patient with claudication asks the nurse about relieving measures. The nurse correctly educates the patient when she advises the patient to


• Claudication refers to pain that occurs in the extremities due to limited blood flow and resultant tissue hypoxia in the legs. Exercise typically exacerbates symptoms.

• Smoking contributes to peripheral vascular disease. Smoking cessation reduces symptoms of claudication and also slows progression of the disease.

• Cold compresses are not recommended. Warm compression may be helpful to promote circulation.

• Exercise typically exacerbates symptoms, and would not relieve pain from claudication. However, monitored exercise programs are encouraged to prevent worsening of claudication and possibly even promote growth of new arterial pathways to bypass the affected arteries.

• Edema is not the cause of pain in intermittent claudication. Most commonly pain is caused by partial or complete occlusion of arteries in the one or both lower extremities (peripheral artery disease). The narrowed or occluded arteries cause decreased blood flow to the muscles of the legs.  When walking or exercising, oxygen demands for the leg muscles are increased (compared to at rest), so the inadequate blood flow (and delivery of oxygen) causes a cramping pain in the muscles.

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