When walking leads to leg pain

It might be peripheral artery disease, an underrecognized and potentially dangerous condition.

Published: November, 2020

If you notice a painful cramping sensation in your calf when you walk, you might blame a cranky knee joint or write it off as a sign of aging. But this symptom may signal a more serious condition, known as peripheral artery disease, or PAD.

PAD occurs when fatty deposits clog the arteries outside of the heart (most commonly in the legs) and reduce blood supply in that part of the body. The hallmark symptom is leg pain that occurs with exercise, called intermittent claudication (from the Latin word claudicatio, meaning "to limp").

To continue reading this article, you must log in.
  • Research health conditions
  • Check your symptoms
  • Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
  • Find the best treatments and procedures for you
  • Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
Learn more about the many benefits and features of joining Harvard Health Online »