Effort-Related Calf Pain in the Obese and Long-Term Changes after Surgical Obesity Treatment


  • Nonstandard abbreviations: SOS, Swedish Obese Subjects; OR, odds ratio; CI, confidence interval.

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Department of Cardiology, Sahlgrenska University Hospital, SE-413 45 Göteborg, Sweden. E-mail: kristjan.karason@medfak.gu.se


Objective: To compare the prevalence of effort-related calf pain in an obese and a general population and to analyze the incidence of and recovery from such pain after surgical and conventional obesity treatment.

Research Methods and Procedures: A random sample of 1135 subjects from a general population was compared with 6328 obese subjects in the Swedish Obese Subjects study. Obese subjects were followed longitudinally, and information about calf pain was obtained from surgically and conventionally treated patients for up to 6 years.

Results: In both sexes, self-reported calf pain was more common in the obese than in the general population [odds ratios (ORs) 5.0 and 4.0 in men and women, respectively, p < 0.001]. Obese patients undergoing surgery had a lower 6-year incidence of calf pain compared with the conventionally treated control group (ORs 0.39 and 0.61, p < 0.05). Among subjects reporting symptoms at baseline, the 6-year recovery rate was higher in the surgical group compared with the control group (ORs 15.3 and 5.9, p < 0.001).

Discussion: Obese subjects have markedly more problems with effort-related calf pain than the general population. Surgical obesity treatment reduces the long-term risk of developing claudication symptoms and increases the likelihood of recovering from such symptoms.