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Poor Circulation in Feet

Poor circulation in feet can be the answer to questions like why your feet always feel cold even when you are wearing two pair of socks during the summer or why your spouse complains about your cold feet against their legs in bed. In this article you will see what the signs of poor circulation in feet are, why it is important to have good blood circulation in your feet, the causes of poor circulation in feet and how you can improve the circulation of blood in your feet.

Your feet are where poor blood circulation is most found to occur. You will see this condition a lot in the elderly, especially those who suffer from medical conditions like diabetes, and hypertension but in cases where children have congenital heart defects they can also develop poor circulation in feet. When you have circulation problems in your feet it can cause tissue damage in your feet. It can cause a wide range of symptoms and utter discomfort. Having bad or poor circulation is infamous for being referred to as a “silent killer.” Around the world it is known to affect more than ten million people.

If you think you have poor circulation in feet it is important that you seek the medical attention of your physician as it could be a sign of a serious health problem.

Why is blood circulation important in feet?

Having good blood circulation is not only important to your feet but also for your entire body. To live a healthy life it is an indispensable requisition. Having the correct amount of blood flow to your feet is needed for the movement of your feet and legs. It is also needed for various bodily functions and for the functioning of many organs in your body. Having proper circulation delivers the oxygen-rich blood that your body needs every day.

Signs that you have got poor circulation in feet

The signs, or symptoms, of poor circulation in feet can range from mild to severe, depending on what the underlying reasons are and how severe they are. These signs do not appear overnight but develop over a period of time. This is why it is nicknamed the silent killer. Some common signs include:

  • Usually the symptoms of poor circulation in feet develop slowly and in the beginning stages are characterized by pain and cramping in your buttocks, legs, or feet.
  • For some the cramping and pain subside when you rest and come back when you do your regular daily activities. The pain and cramping usually starts in the beginning stages because your blood circulation to the working muscles is impaired.
  • As the poor circulation to feet becomes worse you may start to have foot cramps while resting or while sleeping. The reason for the foot cramps is that the symptoms are now developing while you remain stationary for a long period of time due to the lack of required blood flow to your feet muscles.
  • Swelling of your feet due to improper kidney functions
  • Poor circulation in feet at night can cause cold feet, usually right before you go to sleep because the blood flowing between the veins and arteries is what helps to regulate your body’s temperature. Sometimes instead of cold feet your feet may feel very warm.
  • After eating certain foods
  • During long periods of being stationary, especially after sitting for long periods of time or when you first get up in the morning.
  • You may have sudden severe pain in the leg due to blood clot formation
  • Any wounds or cuts on your feet usually will not heal very easy
  • Diminished growth of toenails and hair growth, especially in the distribution of hair on your foot.
  • Foot may appear bluish sometimes due to the lack of adequate amount of oxygen in the blood stream
  • Fatigue due to the lack of proper nutrients and oxygen reaching your muscles causing you to feel lethargic and have a lack of stamina to do your daily tasks
  • Developing sores and ulcers on the feet that usually take time to heal
  • Skin could become thin, tight, and have a shiny look or pale look
  • Numbness in one or both feet causing the feeling of pins and needles or like your feet has gone to sleep.
  • Shortness in breath after doing simple tasks
  • Hypertension, also known as high blood pressure
  • Varicose veins
  • Rashes that cover a small or wide area on your feet
  • Weak pulse
  • Pain when immobile but not when walking or standing
  • Difference in temperature between both feet, which could indicate poor circulation in one leg only.
  • Swollen ankles
  • Cramps in your calves when walking and during sleep
  • Feet may feel itchy due to dry skin

During pregnancy many women face poor circulation in feet because the growing fetus is applying pressure on their blood vessels. Retaining water can cause swelling in their feet and is a major sign of poor circulation in feet while pregnant. Even after pregnancy a woman might have poor circulation in feet due to the excess weight gain from being pregnant.


Besides being elderly there are different other factors that play a key role in poor circulation, including lifestyle factors, medical conditions, and genetics. One common cause is peripheral vascular disease also known as peripheral artery disease (PAD). It is a medical condition that is characterized by the narrowing or obstruction of the big arteries that are from your heart and brain. PAD commonly occurs in your lower extremities. What causes this disease varies but the most common reason is atherosclerosis, which is the narrowing of your arterial walls with fatty deposits. Other medical conditions that can cause poor circulation in legs include:

  • Thyroid disorders
  • Kidney problems
  • Raynaud disease, which is a medical condition in which the small arteries of your body narrow down and cause a decrease in the supply of blood to your feet. It is a condition that mainly affects women between the ages of fifteen and forty-five.
  • Liver diseases
  • Stress and/or anxiety – when a person is anxious or stressed the blood circulation increases to the major organs but decreases in other non-major places like your feet.

In some with poor circulation in feet it is caused by your body’s response to cold temperatures. In cold weather your body reduces the flow of blood to the legs and feet. Other causes can include:

  • Having gout
  • After surgery due to the fact that you may not be able to get out of bed for a certain period of time causing immobility
  • Smoking
  • Leading a sedentary lifestyle
  • Obesity

How to improve blood circulation in feet

There are a variety of things that you can do to help improve blood circulation in your feet.

  • Try to avoid being immobile for a long period of time
  • Stay warm
  • People who are diabetic will need to keep their sugar levels under control
  • People with high blood pressure will usually have to take medication
  • Foot massages to enhance the blood circulation to your feet
  • Hydrotherapy
  • Take a baby aspirin daily.
  • Wear shoes and clothes that are not tight fitting and can slow down the circulation in your body, especially your feet from wearing tight shoes

Lifestyle changes

  • Stop smoking
  • Regimen of regular exercises like taking daily walks
  • Increase the amount of water you drink each day
  • Eat foods that will help to lower your cholesterol
  • Limit the amount of alcohol you drink
  • Watch your caffeine intake
  • Eat a healthy diet and avoid foods that contain saturated fats. Eat foods that are rich in vitamin A, C, and E, fiber, and Omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Staying warm when out in the cold
  • Add garlic to your diet. This can help to improve the circulation of blood to your body
  • When sitting elevate your feet on a surface that is ten to twelve inches above the floor to ensure proper circulation
  • Reduce the intake of salt in your diet because it can lead to water retention.

Foods that help to improve circulation in feet

  • Dark chocolate: it contains flavonoids that help to improve blood circulation, and helps to lower your blood pressure and high cholesterol levels.
  • Citrus fruits: these fruits are loaded with vitamin C and can act as natural blood thinners to help prevent or reduce any blood clots in your body. Vitamin C also enhances healthy blood circulation
  • Nuts and seeds: these are rich in vitamin B3, Omega 3-fatty acids and niacin and help you to have a healthy blood flow

Specialty designed products

  • Exercise equipment
  • Wedges you put between your legs when relaxing
  • At night when you sleep use a bed wedge to put between your legs
  • Compression socks and hosiery that are designed to stabilize your leg tissues and help the blood to circulate easier to your legs and feet

Medical treatments

  • Medication that helps to prevent blood clotting
  • Angioplasty to open up the blocked arteries by using a vein from another part of your body in order to bypass the artery that is blocked
  • Medications to help lower your blood pressure
  • Medications to help lower your bad cholesterol levels

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