Circulation is very important for healing of the feet from surgery or wounds. It is the most important vital sign of the foot. Smoking is the number one enemy of good circulation in the foot, and walking is the number one friend. During every visit, Dr. Hoy will assess circulation. If there is poor circulation, whether or not you have diabetes, it may be important to have at-risk foot care done on a regular schedule throughout the year, to monitor for changes and perform the foot care, such as keeping down nails, corns and calluses, to keep them from becoming infections that are difficult to heal.
Cold feet and hands, in addition to swelling and cramping, may often be symptoms of poor circulation. Many times it can be a sign of other health issues, such as high blood pressure and diabetes. Red or blue toes, tingling in the feet, and unexpected hair loss on the legs may all point to circulation issues. Veins can be damaged, which can then restrict or even stop blood flow and possibly lead to blood clots in the leg. Typically, unhealthy behaviors are contributing factors, and learning to manage them is a good starting point in controlling poor circulation. These may include smoking cigarettes, lack of exercise, or having high cholesterol and blood pressure. Occasionally, using leg massagers may help to stimulate circulation which improves blood flow. Additionally, wearing support hosiery and proper footwear may help your feet to feel better by improving circulation.
Poor Circulation in the Feet
Poor blood circulation in the feet and legs is can be caused by peripheral artery disease (PAD), which is the result of a buildup of plaque in the arteries.
Plaque buildup or atherosclerosis results from excess calcium and cholesterol in the bloodstream. This can restrict the amount of blood which can flow through the arteries. Poor blood circulation in the feet and legs are sometimes caused by inflammation in the blood vessels, known as vasculitis.
Lack of oxygen and oxygen from poor blood circulation restricts muscle growth and development. It can also cause:
- Muscle pain, stiffness, or weakness
- Numbness or cramping in the legs
- Skin discoloration
- Slower nail & hair growth
- Erectile dysfunction
Those who have diabetes or smoke are at greatest risk for poor circulation, as are those who are over 50. If you have poor circulation in the feet and legs it may be caused by PAD and is important to make changes to your lifestyle in order to reduce risk of getting a heart attack or stroke. Exercise and maintaining a healthy lifestyle will dramatically improve conditions.
Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment of Poor Blood Circulation in the Feet
Poor blood circulation in the feet and legs is often caused by peripheral artery disease (PAD), which is usually the result of a buildup of plaque in the arteries. Plaque buildup, or atherosclerosis, can be the result of excess calcium and cholesterol in the bloodstream. This restricts how much blood can flow through arteries. Reduced blood flow to a certain area of the body severely limits the amount of oxygen and nutrients that part of the body receives. This leads to degeneration in the muscles and other tissues. Sometimes, poor blood circulation in the feet and legs can be caused by other conditions, such as the damaging or inflammation of blood vessels, known as vasculitis.
The lack of oxygen and nutrients caused by poor blood circulation can restrict muscle growth and development, as well as cause muscle pain and cramps, weakness, and stiffness. Other common symptoms include numbness in the legs and feet, skin discoloration in the affected limbs, slower nail and hair growth, and erectile dysfunction in men. In more severe cases of PAD, pain can be present even when a person isn’t exercising, and may range from mildly uncomfortable to completely debilitating.
Poor blood circulation in the feet and legs is more common in those who are overweight or obese, have diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, who smoke, or who have a family history of PAD or related conditions such as a heart attack, stroke, etc. Diabetes and smoking place a person at greatest risk for developing poor blood circulation, although advanced age, over 50, can also increase risk.
If you are experiencing poor blood circulation in the feet and legs caused by PAD, it is important to make changes to your lifestyle in order to reduce your risk of experiencing a heart attack or stroke caused by this condition. If you smoke, quit completely. This will increase the amount of oxygen in your bloodstream. Exercising and reducing the saturated fats in your diet. Saturated fats come from fatty meats, fried foods, whole milk, etc., can make a difference in improving blood circulation in feet. It is also important to avoid developing influenza and to carefully control your blood sugar if you have diabetes.
Your primary care doctor may recommend combining lifestyle changes with a prescription medication regimen to improve blood circulation. The most commonly-used medications for PAD are called statins and work by blocking the amount of enzymes in your body that produce cholesterol. They are known by the brand names Zocor, Lipitor, Crestor, and others.