Poor blood circulation means more than numb or tingling hands and feet. In fact, it’s usually a sign of another underlying health issue. Here’s what you need to know.
People with poor circulation are probably all-too-familiar with its symptoms: tingling, numbness, cramping or pain in their extremities. It’s common to think it’s no big deal — or even just a nuisance. But in reality, there’s likely a more serious underlying cause.
Your body’s circulation sends blood, oxygen and nutrients all throughout your body. And it’s when your blood flow is minimized that you start to notice the symptoms of poor circulation.
So, what are the potential underlying causes of poor circulation? Let’s take a look at the most common causes for seniors.
- Diabetes. This disease not only affects your blood sugar levels, but also the way your blood circulates. With diabetes, symptoms of poor circulation manifest as cramping — usually in the calves, thighs or buttocks. But because diabetic neuropathy lessens the feeling of sensitivity, it can be harder to notice.
- Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD). PAD is a condition that causes your arteries and vessels to become narrowed. If plaque builds up in vessels, it can result in tissue damage. The most affected area of circulation due to PAD is in the legs. This leads to ischemic tissue which can be painful, and in severe cases can result in loss of the limb or parts of the limb.
- Obesity. If you are overweight and sitting or standing for long periods of time, the extra pounds you carry can cause poor blood circulation. It can also cause varicose veins or other problems in your blood vessels.
- Varicose Veins. If you have veins that appear gnarled and sticking out from the surface of your skin, it could be varicose veins. These enlarged veins are caused by faulty valves that allow blood to flow in the wrong direction or pool in one spot.
- Blood Clots. These blockages can happen anywhere, but can cause circulation problems when they are in your arms or legs. It really develops into a problem if the clot becomes loose and relocates near your heart or lungs.
When Should You See a Medical Provider?
In addition to yearly wellness exams, you should make an appointment with a medical provider if you notice any symptoms of poor circulation. Specific symptoms such as:
- Fingers or toes that are abnormally blue or pale.
- Claudication pain: pain in muscles that occurs with exertion and resolves quickly with rest.
- Unexplained swelling, especially in a solitary limb.
And if you have any family history of circulation problems, let your clinical team know — it may help with diagnosis.
Remember, the earlier you seek treatment, the easier and more successful it can be to stay healthy.
Looking for a medical provider? We have several who specialize in geriatric care to choose from. Call us at 512-553-1921.