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Causes of Poor Circulation in Hands

By Lori Newell ; Updated August 14, 2017

Poor circulation in the hands can make them feel constantly cold. It can also cause the hands to turn white or blue. In severe cases, poor blood flow can lead to deformity, skin sores, ulcers and gangrene. To help treat this condition, it is important to have the cause of poor circulation in the hands properly diagnosed.

Raynaud's Disease

The symptoms of Raynaud's disease occur because the small blood vessels that supply the extremities narrow and/or spasm. This causes poor circulation in the affected area, which can include the hands, fingers, feet, toes, nose and ears, states the Mayo Clinic. For some the condition is mild, while in others it can become disabling. Along with cold hands and skin color changes, Raynaud's can lead to the fingers swelling, feeling numb, tingly, or developing a stabbing pain. This condition can go through periods of attacks that can last minutes or hours, followed by periods that are symptom free.

Buerger’s Disease

Buerger’s disease, which is also called thromboangiitis obliterans, is a rare disorder in which the small veins and arteries in the body become inflamed. For reasons not well understood, clots develop in the arteries and restrict circulation, claims the Vascular Disease Foundation. Those at the highest risk are smokers, tobacco users and patients with high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes. Buerger's disease can cause pain, ulcers and sores in the hands and feet. The affected area may also become cool to the touch and develop numbness and tingling sensations.


Arteriosclerosis is diagnosed when the arteries become narrowed due to plaque buildup. This can occur in any artery in the body, including those in the hands. As plaque builds up less blood can get through. According to the University of Chicago Medical Center, white, red or bluish skin coloring; streaks of discoloration under the fingernails; swelling; numbnes; and sores or ulcers that do not heal are common warning signs. To manage this condition, it is important to treat high blood pressure, high cholesterol and any underlying heart disease.

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