Improve Symptoms of Poor Circulation in the Legs

SYMPTOMS       |       CAUSES      |        CONSULT      |       RELIEF       |       FINAL THOUGHTS

Do you sometimes experience aches and pains in your legs or have other leg symptoms such as cramp, swelling or just cold feet? Your symptoms may be due to poor circulation in the legs. Let’s learn more about how you can improve symptoms due to poor blood circulation in your legs. But, first, let’s learn more about poor leg circulation.

What are the symptoms of poor leg circulation?

Poor circulation isn’t always a health condition on its own. Other health conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes sometimes cause it. The symptoms of poor leg circulation are varied and also extend into other parts of the body. They include:

Swelling

If you have poor circulation, fluid can accumulate and cause swelling, particularly in the legs, feet, and ankles. You may notice that your clothes or shoes feel tighter.

Numbness & tingling

If you’ve ever fallen asleep with your arm pinned under you or kept your legs crossed for too long, it acts just like a tourniquet by restricting blood flow to the limb. This can cause a pins and needles sensation or tingling and numbness to the affected limb.

Ulcers, sores and knocks on the leg that are not healing

The speed at which your body heals is affected by poor circulation. Blood can pool in the veins of your leg and cause swelling under the skin. This can lead to ulcers.  A good supply of oxygenated blood from the leg’s arteries is required to heal foot and leg sores and ulcers.

Varicose Veins

You might notice varicose veins appear on your legs, particularly if you stand for a long time. The blood doesn’t return to your heart as quickly if you have varicose veins. This can cause your legs to ache or feel heavy, itch, swell, or feel knotted.

Cold hands and feet

Your hands and feet may feel much colder than the rest of your body. While cold, they may change color or feel numb. If you try to warm them up, they might feel tingly or throb.

Joint pain and muscles cramping

Poor circulation can affect your joints and cause cramping and stiffness in your muscles. Your legs and arms might ache more, particularly when you’ve been still for a while. You may notice the pain more when you warm up, and blood flow is improved.

Cognitive dysfunction

You might notice varicose veins appear on your legs, particularly if you stand for a long time. The blood doesn’t return to your heart as quickly if you have varicose veins. This can cause your legs to ache or feel heavy, itch, swell, or feel knotted.

Fatigue

Your hands and feet may feel much colder than the rest of your body. While cold, they may change color or feel numb. If you try to warm them up, they might feel tingly or throb.

Digestive problems

Good digestion relies on good blood flow throughout your body. If poor circulation causes digestive issues, you could have diarrhea, constipation, or pain in your abdomen.

Why is it important to improve your circulation?

Poor circulation, whether in your legs or somewhere else in your body, can have adverse effects. Your body must have good blood circulation to function well. If the circulation in your legs is inadequate, it means that blood flow to your legs is reduced.

When your circulatory system works well, it sends oxygen, blood, and nutrients to all of your body. If blood flow is interrupted, parts of your body are likely to lack the oxygen it needs. This results in poor circulation and is more likely to happen in your legs than other areas of your body.

If you have poor leg circulation, it’s a sign that other areas of your body may lack the blood flow needed. Your heart, lungs, and brain may also be suffering from poor blood circulation. So, it’s essential to address this issue if it becomes a problem for you.

While the conditions that cause you to have poor circulation may not have a cure, there are some things you can do to improve your circulation and relieve your discomfort.

What causes poor leg circulation symptoms?

Poor blood circulation in the legs has many causes. Age itself is a factor as people become more sedentary as they get older. The less you move your body, the less blood pumps throughout your body.

There are also other causes, both from a disease standpoint or lifestyle factors. Your doctor can assess any signs or symptoms you have to determine if a health condition is the cause of poor circulation in your legs.

He or she may need to run tests to give you a final diagnosis. These are some of the more common medical causes of poor leg circulation.

Peripheral Artery Disease or PAD

PAD is a term that is often interchangeable with poor circulation. PAD is one of the most common causes of reduced circulation in your legs, affecting up to 10 million Americans.

If you have PAD, blood flow is restricted in your leg’s arteries. This is usually due to a condition called atherosclerosis, which causes an accumulation of plaque or cholesterol. It often results in a disruption of blood supply reaching your legs. PAD may indicate similar problems in the arteries leading to your heart and brain.

Some of the leg symptoms you may experience if you have PAD include:

  • Cold legs and feet
  • Leg pain that occurs when lying down or walking
  • Numbness, tingling, or weakness in your legs
  • Color changes in your legs, feet, or toenails
  • Noticeably less hair on your legs
  • Cramps that occur at night

If you’re over 50 years old or smoke, you’re at a higher risk of developing PAD

Diabetes

Diabetes is another common cause of poor circulation. Diabetes doesn’t just cause your blood sugar to go up. It can also cause poor blood circulation in your legs.

If you’ve had your diabetes for a long time, you may not even notice that you have diminished circulation in your legs. The reason is that diabetic neuropathy can damage your nerves to the point that you don’t feel pain in your legs.

If you have diabetes and begin to experience signs of poor circulation in your legs, you are likely to have the following symptoms:

  • Pain in your buttocks or legs, including your thighs and calves
  • Cramps that are worse when you’re active
  • Reduced feeling in your legs
  • Swelling of your legs
  • Ulcers on your leg
  • Restless legs
  • Poor balance

It’s essential to see your doctor if you have diabetes and experience signs of poor circulation.

Other Causes of Poor Blood Circulation in the Legs

Varicose Veins & Chronic Venous Insufficiency (CVI)

Varicose veins are common, affecting around 23% of people in the U.S. If you have varicose veins, the valves in your leg veins don’t work right. This results in the blood not being able to flow back to the heart and the blood and fluid pooling in the leg veins. This causes the veins of your legs to enlarge and swell, resulting in reduced circulation in your legs.  

When your venous circulation is impaired resulting in the blood and fluid unable to return up your legs veins back to your heart and just ‘pools’, it’s known as Chronic Venous Insufficiency (CVI). Women and people who are overweight are more likely to have varicose veins than the general population.

Standing / sitting

Whether you’re relatively healthy or have one of the main conditions that cause poor circulation in the legs, it’s a good idea to get the blood flowing. Sitting or standing for a long time can slow down the flow of blood in your legs. This can result in your legs not getting the nutrients or oxygen it needs.

Blood Clots

Blood clots will naturally block blood flow. The blockage could be partial or complete. When a blood clot develops in your legs, poor circulation is a given. A blood clot in your leg can be detrimental to your health and lead to a heart attack, embolism, or stroke. Therefore, a blood clot must be discovered as early as possible to receive the best outcome.

Obesity

When we’re overweight, our bodies are stressed by carrying around extra weight. It’s particularly hard on the body when we have to sit or stand a lot. Obesity also increases our risk of high blood pressure.

Smoking

Not only are smokers extremely high risk of getting ill and dying from respiratory diseases, but smoking also causes vascular disease such as peripheral arterial disease (PAD).  Smoking causes blood vessels to narrow and become blocked, or arteriosclerosis.

Additional Consideration

While some causes of poor circulation in the legs are due to a medical problem, sometimes a simple lifestyle change can improve things. It’s essential to treat any underlying medical causes of poor leg circulation.

You depend on your legs to maintain movement of your entire body. If your legs become so affected by poor blood circulation that you move less, this can have profound negative impacts on your health.

Check with your physician about the benefits of keeping your legs in motion to stimulate blood flow in your legs. You may find it beneficial from both a preventative standpoint and as an additional therapy to help improve circulation in your legs.

When to consult a doctor?

If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms of the conditions that cause poor leg circulation, it’s best to consult a doctor. Symptoms in your legs could be an indicator that you need medical attention.

In particular, if you have diabetes, have a previous history of blood clots, or have any disease that affects your arteries or veins, including PAD and CVI, pay special attention to new symptoms in your legs.

Answer these questions:

  • Have you begun to experience swelling in one or both legs?
  • Do you have a new pain of any type in one or more legs?
  • Have you begun to experience numbness, weakness, or tingling in your legs?
  • Do you notice that your legs or feet are colder than they used to be?
  • Do you have any sores on your legs that are slow to heal, or do you notice color changes on your legs?
  • Do your legs ache, feel tired, or feel heavy?
  • Do you experience cramping at night while you sleep or when you walk?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, it might be time to visit your doctor to find out if you have a serious medical issue. Ask his or her advice about improving the flow of blood to your legs.

Finding relief for your poor leg circulation?

If a doctor has diagnosed you with poor leg circulation, follow their advice. Treating the root cause is a good step towards minimizing symptoms and preventing complications of poor circulation.

In the meantime, you want to find maximum relief for your symptoms. Now more than ever, people are seeking non-invasive, natural ways of treating their conditions with adjunct therapy. Patients like making their own informed decisions about their health.

There are some non-prescription therapeutic ways of improving poor circulation symptoms. These types of adjunct therapy can help boost the stimulation of blood in your legs. This can help improve circulation and deliver the oxygenated blood your legs and feet need. In doing so, you may find relief of pain and have more strength in your legs.

Because medical conditions are often chronic, quality of life is essential. No doubt, you want to feel your best no matter what conditions may affect you. While medical treatment is invaluable in treating any medical disease that may cause the symptoms of poor leg circulation, lifestyle changes can also help.

  • Give up smoking if you smoke. Smoking narrows arteries and restricts blood flow. If you stop the habit, you’re encouraging blood flow to return. That may help prevent your arteries from closing up prematurely.
  • Move around more. This is one of the best ways to encourage blood flow in your body.
  • With your doctor’s permission, perform simple exercises, like swimming or walking. Even if you’re limited in how much you can move, do simple exercises while sitting in front of the TV. Your circulatory system will thank you for it. Begin very slowly at your own pace and improve it when you can.
  • If you’re more mobile and your physician approves it, join a peer fitness group at your level. For instance, if you’re a 55 to a 65-year-old woman who hasn’t been very active, a senior beginner’s yoga class might be just the thing for you.
  • You might also find that a soak in warm water helps reduce pain and swelling.
  • Eat a healthy diet of veggies and fruits. Certain foods, like pomegranates, garlic, salmon, berries, and turmeric, increase circulation. Don’t forget to drink enough water as well to maintain hydration.

Final Thoughts

Symptoms of poor blood circulation can profoundly impact your life. Understandably, you want to find relief for any leg symptoms due to poor circulation. Only a qualified physician can determine the causes and come up with a treatment plan that’s best for you.

If you feel your poor leg circulation symptoms are due to a serious medical problem, please consult your doctor. This will help to ensure you have the best chance of restoring circulation to your legs.

Disclaimer: This content is not intended as medical advice. We simply believe in helping people to make informed decisions about their health. We hope to empower you to ask your physician the right questions so you can both agree on a treatment plan that’s right for you.

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