If your feet hurt or you have problems in general with your feet, you may be suffering from poor circulation. This is a potentially serious condition that can lead to a number of health problems. If your circulation is poor, you will usually notice it in the extremities (legs, hands and feet).
Poor circulation can be caused by many things, but most often unhealthy lifestyle is the culprit. Being overweight, failing to exercise and making poor food choices all conspire to cause poor circulation.
A sedentary lifestyle coupled with a lack of nutrients and the presence of chemical additives and more can cause arterial disease. Diseased arteries become narrow and prevent the free flow of nutrient carrying blood to your muscles and organs.
When your blood flow is reduced, your body receives less oxygen. Lack of oxygen causes a number of negative symptoms such as brain fog, cold hands and feet, tingling in the extremities and more.
Also connected with poor lifestyle are conditions such as high cholesterol levels, high blood pressure and diabetes. These serious health problems are generally accompanied by poor blood circulation. People who have diabetes are especially plagued with poor circulation in the feet which leads to other foot problems, such as:
Because of poor circulation, it can take a long time for these problems to heal. In fact, they may not heal at all and may result in problems with ambulation and even necrosis. If the flesh becomes neck undo if the flesh of the feet does not heal and becomes necrotic, amputation may become necessary.
The reduced flow of blood to the extremities is known as peripheral artery disease or peripheral arterial disease (PAD). This problem is caused by the building up of fatty deposits known as plaque on the walls of the arteries. This condition is commonly referred to as atherosclerosis. If it is left untreated, it can lead to even more serious problems such as kidney damage, varicose veins and strokes.
How do you know if you have poor circulation?
If you are suffering from poor circulation, your symptoms may be very mild. For example you may experience a little bit of burning or pain in the feet. You may feel this when you walk or exercise, and it may go away when you rest. For this reason, you may think that it is just a symptom of discomfort caused by exercise.
Other symptoms may be more severe. Here are a few of the most common symptoms of low blood circulation to the feet:
- Claudication or severe cramping of muscles in your calves, thighs and/or hips. This is especially prevalent after activity.
- You may feel weakness or numbness in your legs.
- Your calves, ankles and feet may feel cold.
- Sores and wounds on your toes, feet or lower legs may take a long time to heal.
- The skin on your lower legs and feet may be tight and shiny and of a different colour than the rest of your skin.
- You may lose hair on your lower legs and feet, or the hair in these areas may grow more slowly.
- Your toenails may grow slowly.
- The pulse in your legs and feet may be weak.
- If you are a man you may suffer from erectile dysfunction.
Seeing your doctor about poor circulation
When you visit your doctor for your annual physical, he or she may immediately notice symptoms of poor circulation by simply taking a look at your legs and feet. Your doctor will look for some of the symptoms listed above, and he or she may also use a series of tests to determine whether or not you have PAD.
- Your doctor may use a stethoscope to listen for the pulse in your ankles and feet. If blood flow is restricted, this pulse will be weak and difficult to detect.
- Your doctor may perform a test known as the ankle brachial index. This test compares your blood pressure in your arm with your blood pressure in your ankle. This test may be done both at rest and after exercise.
- Another test your doctor may perform is a Doppler ultrasound exam. This type of examination evaluates flow of blood and identifies narrow, blocked arteries.
- Your doctor may view your blood flow using a test technique known as angiography.
- Blood work can reveal whether or not you have diabetes by measuring your triglyceride and cholesterol levels.
If your doctor finds that you have diabetes and/or PAD, he or she may prescribe medications to help increase blood flow and treat claudication. You may receive a prescription for anticoagulants or antiplatelet medications. These prevent clotting. Your doctor may also prescribe statins to reduce your cholesterol levels and your risk of stroke and/heart attack. If your blood pressure is high, you may receive a prescription for antihypertensives. Your doctor may prescribe blood sugar control medications if you have diabetes.
If your blood flow issues are serious, your doctor may recommend angioplasty. This is a procedure that is used to enlarge narrow peripheral arteries. Another procedure that is often prescribed is arterial bypass. In this procedure, a vein is taken from another part of your body and used to bypass areas of narrow, blocked arteries. Your doctor will probably refer you to a vascular surgeon to perform these procedures.
Proper foot care can help
If you have poor circulation, taking good care of your feet can help to make the most of the circulation level you have. For example, you should always wear correctly fitted shoes that do not place pressure on your feet. Never wear shoes that are too tight and restrict the flow of circulation.
Inspect and clean your feet every day. Wash your feet carefully in the bath or shower and/or soak them to help soften corns and calluses. Using a foot spa that has massage and bubble functions can help stimulate blood flow.
You may also wish to talk with your doctor and/or a natural healer about alternative therapies such as massage, Revitive or other circulation boosters, hydrotherapy and the addition of herbal supplements to your daily health regimen. See your doctor right away if you have problems with infections, sores or wounds that do not heal in a timely manner.
The importance of avoiding tobacco products to promote good blood flow throughout your body cannot be stressed strongly enough. When you stop smoking and/or using tobacco products, your blood circulation will improve quickly and dramatically.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, the use of tobacco products is always linked to a very serious condition known as Buerger’s disease. This disease negatively impacts the blood vessels in the extremities and causes a variety of symptoms including sores, pain, and coldness.
A healthy lifestyle supports good blood circulation
Cultivating a healthy lifestyle will naturally improve the blood circulation in your feet and your entire body. If you smoke, lead a sedentary lifestyle and are overweight you can almost count on having poor blood circulation and possibly diabetes. To counter these problems, you should:
- Adopt a healthy whole foods diet.
- Take necessary steps to stop smoking and stop drinking alcohol.
- Take up some form of light to moderate exercise for at least 15 to 20 minutes daily.
- Drink plenty of pure filtered water and avoid soft drinks and sugary juices.
- Get ample high quality rest and practice good stress management.
- Follow your doctor’s orders and take your medications regularly.
Following these common sense steps will go far to improve your blood circulation and the overall quality of your life.
Disclaimer: PediReviews.co.uk does not provide medical advice, treatment or diagnosis.