Poor Circulation in Legs or Feet: Causes with Treatment

Are you suffering from poor circulation in your legs or feet? Your circulation system transports blood, nutrients, oxygen, and waste materials around your body. When a specific part of the body doesn’t get adequate blood flow, you may notice symptoms of poor circulation in that area.

Poor circulation is one of the major causes of leg or foot pain. Since there is reduced oxygen getting to vital areas in your body, it can affect the body’s normal functioning.   Poor circulation is usually found in the body’s extremities, such as arms, legs and is usually felt in the fingers and toes.

What’s worse? Poor circulation can cause several health complications. In some cases, it can worsen pre-existing conditions such as heart attacks and strokes. The good news is – this condition isn’t life-threatening, especially if it is discovered early. This article will discuss the common causes of poor circulation in the legs or feet with treatment.

Poor Circulation in Legs or Feet
Poor Circulation in Legs or Feet

Symptoms of Poor Leg Circulation in Legs or Feet

Poor circulation isn’t actually a medical condition. Most of the time, it is a symptom of other health problems.

Common symptoms of poor circulation in legs or feet include:

  • Muscle pain or cramps
  • Numbness and tingling in arms, fingers, toes, or legs
  • Stinging or pulsating pain in the limbs

When you have poor circulation and blood cannot get to your legs freely, you may have the feeling of needles or pins pricking your leg.

Other common symptoms of poor circulation in legs or feet include:

  1. Cold hands and feet

Cold hands or feet could be a symptom of poor circulation in your body. This is because poor circulation affects the nerve endings of the feet or hands. Reduced blood flow to the legs can cause your legs and feet to feel colder than the rest of the body.

  1. Swelling in the feet

Poor circulation can cause edema that can cause fluid to accumulate in the body. It can cause swelling in the feet, ankles, or legs. Pedal edema usually occurs in the lower extremities when blood collects in those areas.

In some other cases, edema can also be a sign of heart failure as it occurs when your heart cannot supply an adequate amount of blood through your body.

Other symptoms of edema include:

  • Pain in affected areas and swelling
  • Stiff joints, Tight or warm skin

If you have edema, you may notice an indentation in the swollen skin when you press on the affected area.

  1. Cognitive dysfunction

Common causes of cognitive problems include gradual changes in blood pressure or reduction in blood flow to the brain. However, poor blood circulation can also hinder the proper functioning of the brain, which can result in difficulty concentrating and memory loss.

  1. Digestive problems

Your body needs the circulation of blood to digest food. When you have poor circulation, fatty matter and other substances can accumulate in the lining of blood vessels in the abdomen. This will cause digestive problems to include abdominal pain, bloody stools, constipation, or diarrhea.

  1. Fatigue

Poor circulation can also reduce your energy levels and can lead to fatigue. In addition, your heart burns extra energy; pumping harder when your body has poor circulation can also cause fatigue.

  1. Muscle cramping or Joint pain

Poor circulation can also cause pain in the arms, hands, feet, or legs. The pain usually exceeds the pain from sitting or standing for long periods. You may also experience an aching or throbbing pain, especially as the blood flow returns.

Your blood carries nutrients to all areas of your body, and when your legs don’t get an adequate supply of blood, oxygen, and nutrients won’t reach your tissues effectively, which can result in cramping and stiffness.

  1. Changes in Skin color

In rare cases, poor circulation can cause skin color changes such as blue or pale. If blood is leaking from capillaries, the skin areas can appear purple. Common areas that may be discolored include lips, nose, ears, nipples, hands, or feet.

  1. Leg ulcers

Poor circulation can lead to ulcers in the feet and legs. In some cases, leg ulcers can develop when blood accumulates in the veins of the legs that can cause swelling under the skin.

  1. Visible veins on your legs

Varicose veins are common in obese people and individuals who stand up for a long time. Poor circulation in the legs can cause existing varicose veins to become noticeable.

Other symptoms of varicose veins include Itchiness, Swelling, Aches in the legs, Heaviness in the legs, or Veins that appear to be knotted.

Causes of poor circulation in Legs or Feet
Causes of poor circulation in Legs or Feet

Common Causes of poor circulation in Legs or Feet

There are several different causes of poor circulation in the body, including:

  1. Age

Unfortunately, as we grow older, our circulatory system slows down, our aorta becomes thicker and less agile. This unavoidable decline in our blood circulation can affect blood pressure, which in turn cause poor circulation in our legs or feet.

  1. Peripheral artery disease

Peripheral artery disease is a circulatory condition that occurs when your arteries and other blood vessels stiffen and becomes narrow. It usually arises from the accumulation of plaque in the blood vessels.

Atherosclerosis also causes arteries to stiffen, which can also cause poor circulation in the legs and feet. Although PAD is common in adults over 50, it can affect individuals of any age.

In rare cases, peripheral artery disease that affects your carotid arteries may result in a stroke. PAD in the heart arteries can also make you prone to heart cancer, so it is crucial PAD is treated early.

Symptoms of PAD in feet include:

  • Pain, Tingling or Numbness
  • Nerve damage or Tissue damage

Top tip: Excess smoking can make one prone to developing PAD early in life.

  1. Blood clots

Blood clots develop as a mechanism to prevent you from losing too much blood in certain instances, such as an exterior injury. When blood clots develop inside the body, it can become a life-threatening condition.

However, Blood clots will also restrict the easy flow of blood in the body. Blood clots usually happen when your blood clumps up together to into a semi-liquid or gel-like state.

When blood clots form in your arms or legs, it can result in poor circulation. However, if your blood clots are diagnosed early, they can be treated successfully.

  1. Varicose veins

Varicose veins are enlarged, swollen, or twisted veins caused by valve failure. This condition appears when blood fills up in the vein, and they’re very common in the legs.

Since the varicose vein can’t move blood as efficiently as other veins, you may experience poor circulation in your legs.

In rare cases, varicose veins can also result in blood clots. Although varicose veins can affect anyone, women, obese individuals, and people with a family history of varicose veins are more prone to the condition.

  1. Diabetes

Diabetes is a common medical condition that affects your blood sugar. In some cases, diabetes can also cause poor circulation in the legs or feet.

Unfortunately, most people with advanced diabetes may find it difficult to detect poor circulation in their legs. This is because diabetics can affect feelings of sensation in the body’s extremities.

  1. Obesity

Being overweight puts weights on your legs, and this excess weight can cause poor circulation in your legs or feet.

For example, sitting or standing in one position for several hours can cause poor circulation in your legs. Obesity also makes you prone to other causes of poor circulation, including varicose veins and blood vessel problems.

  1. Raynaud’s disease

Raynaud’s disease is a rare disease that causes the small arteries in your hands and toes to narrow. These narrowed arteries aren’t able to move blood through your body, so that you may experience symptoms of poor circulation.

The symptoms of Raynaud’s disease mostly flare up when you’re in freezing temperatures or feeling unusually stressed. Although the fingers and toes are commonly affected, Raynaud’s disease can also affect the nose, nipples, lips, and ears.

  1. Sedentary Lifestyle

Staying in one place for an extended period of time can lead to poor circulation in your body. Your body needs movement to ensure blood flows properly. Older people who cannot move around easily are more prone to poor circulation in the legs or feet.

poor circulation in the legs
poor circulation in the legs

Diagnosing poor circulation in the legs or feet

Unfortunately, since poor circulation can be a symptom of numerous health conditions, it is not always easy to diagnose.

If you are experiencing symptoms of poor circulation in your legs, you must reveal any known family history of poor circulation and any related conditions. This information can help your doctor diagnose the symptoms, assess your risk factors, and determine the most appropriate diagnostic tests you may need.

Other tests for diagnosing poor circulation include:

  • Blood testing for high levels of D dimer
  • An ultrasound or CT scan
  • A blood sugar test or Blood pressure tests

How to get rid of poor circulation in the legs or feet

To deal with poor circulation in your legs, you need to first the condition causing it.

However, there are several methods to relieve the symptoms of poor circulation. Your doctor can suggest several remedies, including:

  • Compression socks for painful, inflamed legs
  • Moving more or massaging your legs
  • Special leg exercises to increase blood circulation
  • Take insulin for diabetes
  • Avoiding caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol

Your doctor may also prescribe medications such as clot-dissolving drugs and blood thinners, depending on your condition.  In extreme cases, your doctor may recommend laser or endoscopic vein surgery to treat your varicose veins.

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