Do You Have Poor Circulation In Your Feet?
Posted by Jenn F. on Monday, May 4th, 2015
If you experience frequent cramps in your legs and feet when you exercise or if the skin on your lower extremities is very pale or bluish in color, poor circulation may be to blame. Or, if you have very little natural hair growth on your feet and legs or persistent open sores that take a long time to heal, these symptoms may also indicate that you have poor circulation. For some people, poor circulation in the feet and legs just means it will take longer for that blister or chafed skin to heal. For others, poor circulation can be a limb- or even life-threatening condition. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Nerve damage, circulation problems, and infections can cause serious foot problems for people with diabetes. Sometimes nerve damage can deform or misshape your feet, causing pressure points that can turn into blisters, sores, or ulcers. Poor circulation can make these injuries slow to heal. Sometimes this can lead to amputation of a toe, foot, or leg.”
Furthermore, sluggish blood circulation may itself be symptomatic of a larger problem in the circulatory system. Such problems could lead to varicose veins, kidney damage, and strokes, so if you have any of the previously mentioned symptoms, it’s best to see a podiatrist for an evaluation.
What Causes Poor Circulation in the Feet & Legs?
Poor circulation of the legs is often the result of high blood pressure and related medications like Beta-Blockers that decrease heart activity (and, therefore, circulation as well). Slowed circulation is also associated with conditions like diabetes, hypothyroidism or anorexia.
People with chronically cold hands and feet may have something called Raynaud’s Disease, which causes the small arteries in the hands and toes to narrow, moving blood through the body less efficiently. The precise cause of Raynaud’s Disease is unknown, but some speculate that it could be triggered by stress, chemical exposure, repetitive injury to the nerves, blood pressure medications or other diseases like Rheumatoid Arthritis and Atherosclerosis.
What Can You Do About Poor Circulation?
The best things a patient can do at home to treat (or prevent) poor circulation include:
- Quitting or avoiding cigarette smoking
- Rubbing Cayenne oil on the feet
- Taking a gingko biloba supplement (ask a doctor first!)
- Soaking the feet in hot water, followed by a dip in cold water, followed by hot water again
- Getting a foot massage or pedicure at a day spa
- Wearing compression socks or stockings
- Exercising regularly, especially walking and dancing
- Drinking tea with lemon and ginger
- Wearing shoes that prevent undue pressure and injury
- Treating corns and calluses gently with pads and medication
- Inspecting the feet daily for injury and seeking immediate help for any wounds
What Can A Podiatrist Do For Poor Circulation?
The most important reason to visit a podiatrist is to get an accurate diagnosis of your symptoms. At the Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine, we will conduct a physical examination of your feet, checking for poorly healing wounds, a weak or absent pulse or “whooshing” sounds over arteries that indicate that the blood flow is restricted. The ankle-brachial index compares the blood pressure in the arm with blood pressure in the index. We may also measure your blood pressure as you walk on a treadmill or use our pressure sensors to look for spots on the feet where ulcers are likely to develop. Ultrasound imaging can show whether arteries are narrowed or blocked as well. If undiagnosed diabetes is suspected, you will need blood tests to measure your cholesterol and triglyceride levels. We are fully equipped at The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine to perform all the necessary diagnostic tests.
Once a diagnosis has been made; we can treat your poor circulation with medication, footwear counseling, and custom orthotics. We’ll let you know how diet and exercise factor into a good treatment plan. We can also help you manage any sores, wounds or infections you may have. Newer treatments like extracorporeal shockwave therapy can stimulate short-term circulation increases to repair damage to the foot as well. Contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine to see a specialist who can address the cause of your circulation problems!
If you have any foot problems or pain, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine. Dr. Josef J. Geldwert, Dr. Katherine Lai, Dr. Ryan Minara and Dr. Mariola Rivera have helped thousands of people get back on their feet. Unfortunately, we cannot give diagnoses or treatment advice online. Please make an appointment to see us if you live in the NY metropolitan area or seek out a podiatrist in your area.