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Signs and Symptoms of Poor Circulation to Hands and Feet

By Stephanie Haddad ; Updated July 27, 2017

Poor circulation, the result of many circulatory system problems and even lifestyle choices, is characterized by blocked or constricted arteries. Although many symptoms may seem to be small inconveniences, poor circulation can lead to more damaging conditions like high blood pressure, hypertension, stroke, peripheral artery disease, kidney damage, aneurysms, arteriosclerosis, Raynaud's disease, and phlebitis. It is important to recognize the signs and symptoms of poor circulation so that quick diagnosis and treatment can be sought. A diagnosis will be made with a patient's medical history, family history, and lifestyle, and then a proper treatment recommended. The following common signs of poor circulation should not be ignored.

Sensations in the Hands and Feet

A change in the sensations of the hands and feet is an initial indication of circulatory trouble. Numbness, tingling (a feeling of pins and needles), trouble discerning temperature, a loss of sensation, or a constant cold feeling are among the most common symptoms. More serious signs, like discoloration, can indicate cyanosis, or a lack of oxygen. If hands or feet become darker in color, or the skin tinges blue or purple, seek care from a physician as soon as possible.

Pain and Cramping

Although the hands will show many symptoms of poor circulation, the feet and legs are often hit hardest by this condition. Cramping or a feeling of fatigue in the legs, buttocks, or feet during activity should not be ignored. Often, the feet, ankles, and legs can swell up uncomfortably. Varicose veins, spider veins, and painful patches of skin are external signs that poor circulation is present.

Skin Breakdowns and Healing Problems

Another side effect of poor circulation, patients may notice that injuries to the legs and feet do not heal as quickly as once before. These are referred to as "skin breakdowns" and can appear as sores or lesions on the legs, or simply cuts or scratches that cannot heal on their own. For those with poor circulation, preventing injury is important and requires extra special care. Supportive footwear can be worn, corns and callouses should be treated by a medical professional, and caution should be used to avoid any injuries to the toes.

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