Do your feet and hands often feel ice cold? Are you experiencing frequent swelling and cramping in your feet and legs? Are you unable to walk more than a block without pain in your calves and legs? Read through the following conditions and symptoms to find out if you might have poor circulation, and then review potential treatments to learn what to do about it.
Causes and Symptoms
Circulation delivers life-supporting blood throughout your body. It allows your heart to beat, your body to move, and your brain to perform. When this natural blood flow isn’t working properly, it can lead to symptoms that initially appear in the feet and legs:
- Fatigue or cramping during activity
- Cramping during inactivity
- Swelling and achiness
Poor circulation is often a sign of other health issues, such as obesity, high blood pressure or cholesterol, and diabetes. Another common cause of poor circulation is peripheral vascular disease (PVD), a condition that restricts normal blood flow to and from the heart. A related condition, venous insufficiency, occurs when your veins are unable to effectively send blood from your legs back to your heart. This condition may result in severe leg swelling, varicose veins, and skin discoloration.
Certain behaviors can also lead to poor circulation:
- Tobacco smoking
- Lack of regular exercise
- Improper diet
- Sitting or standing in one place for long periods of time
Think you may have poor circulation?
- Are your toes red, purple, or blue?
- Do you have unexplained hair loss on my legs and feet?
- Are your feet and hands often excessively cool?
- Do your feet “fall asleep” easily?
- Do your feet feel better if I hang them over the edge of my bed?
If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you may have poor circulation. Read more to find out what you should do about this potentially serious condition.
Are there any serious concerns with poor circulation?
Because blood flow supports crucial bodily functions, circulation problems require special concern. In addition to potentially indicating more serious medical conditions, poor circulation may provoke deep vein thrombosis (DVT). DVT can occur when a vein is damaged or blood flow stops because of poor circulation, leading to a sudden, deep blood clot in the leg, accompanied by severe pain. If you are obese and/or over age 40 and have poor circulation, you are at a higher risk for developing life-threatening DVT.
Because poor circulation may be related to other medical conditions, it is recommended that you visit your general physician or vascular specialist to assess your overall health and blood flow. After a medical checkup, you can treat poor circulation by changing your unhealthy behaviors and managing the medical conditions that may be causing it:
- Stop smoking cigarettes.
- Keep your blood pressure and cholesterol in a healthy range.
- Exercise regularly.
- Avoid long periods of immobility.
- Elevate your legs. Sitting in a recliner with your legs up can be a great, simple remedy for poor circulation.
- Use special equipment, such as leg massagers and exercisers to stimulate circulation and improve blood flow.
- Wear support hosiery or socks to improve circulation. If you’re wearing them for the first time, start by wearing light to moderate support products so that you grow accustomed to the tighter feel of graduated support.