Harvard Men's Health Watch

Blocked arteries may be causing that leg pain when you walk

Regular exercise helps you walk farther with less discomfort.

Leg pain that starts when you walk for a while but subsides when you rest is the signature symptom of a condition called intermittent claudication. This occurs when fatty deposits in the walls of leg arteries impede the free flow of blood to exercising muscles, depriving them of oxygen. The cramping and pain can strike in the foot, calf, thigh, or buttock, depending on the site of the blockage.

Ironically, walking is the key to relief from the pain of intermittent claudication. "The benefit of walking until you feel pain is that you will be able to walk farther and with less pain," says Dr. Joshua Beckman, a vascular medicine specialist and associate professor of medicine at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women's Hospital.

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