U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs


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Journal of Vascular Surgery, Volume 52, Issue 2, August 2010, Pages 340-347; doi:10.1016/j.jvs.2010.03.005


Objective: Claudication is the most common manifestation of peripheral arterial disease, producing significant ambulatory compromise. Our study evaluated patients with bilateral lower limb claudication and characterized their gait abnormality based on advanced biomechanical analysis using joint torques and powers.

Methods: Twenty patients with bilateral claudication (10 with isolated aortoiliac disease and 10 with combined aortoiliac and femoropopliteal disease) and 16 matched controls ambulated on a walkway while 3-dimensional biomechanical data were collected. Patients walked before and after onset of claudication pain. Joint torques and powers at early, mid, and late stance for the hip, knee, and ankle joints were calculated for claudicating patients before and after the onset of claudication pain and were compared to controls.

Results: Claudicating patients exhibited significantly reduced hip and knee power at early stance (weight-acceptance phase) due to decreased torques produced by the hip and knee extensors. In mid stance (single-limb support phase), patients had significantly reduced knee and hip power due to the decreased torques produced by the knee extensors and the hip flexors. In late stance (propulsion phase), reduced propulsion was noted with significant reduction in ankle plantar flexor torques and power. These differences were present before and after the onset of pain, with certain parameters worsening in association with pain.

Conclusions: The gait of claudication is characterized by failure of specific and identifiable muscle groups needed to perform normal walking (weight acceptance, single-limb support, and propulsion). Parameters of gait are abnormal with the first steps taken, in the absence of pain, and certain of these parameters worsen after the onset of claudication pain.