Having poor circulation in your feet can be frustrating – even dangerous. It can make it very difficult, or even impossible, to walk or even stand. If you have this problem, it will be very important that you talk to your doctor as soon as you can. He or she will be able to determine the cause of the issue and come up with the best plan to get your quality of life back and get you moving again.
Potential Causes of Poor Foot Circulation
There are a lot of reasons why you might have poor foot circulation. In some cases, it can be due to lifestyle choices. For example, you might not be exercising as much as you should. Or you could be overweight or follow an unhealthy diet. You might be a smoker.1
Certain bad habits can lead to artery damage. When this happens, your arteries can’t do their job of moving nutrients and blood as well as they used to.
They can become narrow, making it very hard for blood to get to where it needs to get. Poor circulation can rob parts of your body of the oxygen they need to work properly.
There are also several diseases that can result in poor circulation in the feet as well. If your blood pressure is too high or you have problems with your blood sugar level, you’ll be at risk for poor circulation as well.2
The consequences of poor circulation can be devastating. It can, for example, make it difficult for an injury to heal correctly. In some extreme cases, poor circulation in feet can be so severe that it leads to the amputation of a toe or even an entire foot or leg. If you don’t get this problem addressed, you could be at a higher risk for kidney damage or even a stroke.3
Symptoms of Poor Circulation in Feet
If you have poor circulation, you’ll probably experience several different symptoms. For instances, you might notice tingling in your feet, weakness or numbness. Some people also have cramping in the leg or feel a sense of coldness in the area. In some cases, people with poor circulation in their feet may notice that any wounds they suffer might not heal as fast as normal. If you have poor circulation in the toes, you might see that your toenails don’t grow as quickly as they used to.4
Talking to Your Doctor
Again, poor circulation in the feet should never be ignored. The reason is it could be a sign of a serious health issue. If you have tingling in your feet or have any other symptoms, you need to get medical attention. See your doctor as soon as you can so that he or she can put a plan of action in place to deal with the problem.
In many instances, a doctor can see the signs of a foot circulation issue just by looking.
One of the most obvious signs is a wound that doesn’t heal properly.
Your doctor may test for signs of a weakened pulse, or listen for sounds that can signify an issue. For example, your doctor may listen for a whooshing sound usually associated with narrowed arteries.5
Another type of test commonly performed compares the blood pressure in your arm with the blood pressure in your ankle.6 The doctor may also want to check your blood pressure while you exercise, so he or she might have you walk on a treadmill for a few minutes. Other examinations may be needed so that your doctor can actually see where the poor circulation is occurring. In some instances, a doctor will want to test your blood to check your levels of triglycerides and cholesterol.7
How to Improve Circulation in Feet
Thankfully, there are several ways that a doctor can go about addressing the issue of how to increase circulation in feet. He or she may recommend medications to address your symptoms. There are many medications that can lower your cholesterol levels and prevent blood from clotting. As a result, you’ll be at a reduced risk for cardiovascular problems. Other medications are available that can bring your blood sugar to a safe level and also reduce blood pressure.
If you have a severe issue with poor circulation, your doctor may recommend a surgical procedure to help ensure that blood once again flows properly through your arteries.8
In some cases, a doctor will recommend the use of compression socks to address an issue with poor circulation in the feet. These are significantly different from regular socks. They are typically only available through a prescription and usually need to be fitted by a professional.
Compression socks apply a gentle amount of pressure to your legs, squeezing them in order to help increase the flow of blood from the legs toward the heart. If you have a less severe problem with poor circulation, you may be able to obtain compression socks without a prescription.9
There are a few tips that you should consider if your doctor recommends the use of compression socks. For example, you should only put them on when your skin is dry. If you use lotion or you’ve just come out of the shower, make sure your legs are completely dry before putting on the socks. You’ll have a much easier time doing so. Also, wear them for as long as your doctor tells you to – even if this means all day until bedtime. Tell your doctor if you notice any signs of skin irritation, such as redness. That could mean that either the socks aren’t fitting as they should or you have some type of infection.10
When it comes to answering the question of how to improve circulation in the feet, there are many ways you can go about doing so. Most of these involve changing to a healthier lifestyle. Here are just some of them.
· Exercise – If you want to improve poor circulation, one of the most effective things you can do is to get out and get moving.11 Exercising on a regular basis can also keep your blood pressure at a safe level and improve the performance of your blood vessels.12 But you should never start any sort of workout routine without speaking with your doctor first. That way you can start a program that will be as safe as possible.
· Stop smoking – There are a lot of reasons to quit smoking, but one of the most important is poor circulation in the feet. Tobacco is filled with chemicals that adhere to the walls of your arteries. When this happens, you not only experience circulation problems but other health issues as well.13
· Elevation – Whenever possible, lie with your feet elevated above your heart. Not only will this help stimulate circulation, it will also keep blood from pooling in your feet and legs. This will reduce swelling.14
· Dietary changes – The food you eat might be contributing to your circulation problems. If your diet is high in fat, this could lead to narrowing of the arteries, not only in your feet but also in other areas of your body.15 Try including more nuts, fruits, and vegetables and cut down on salt. Eating more fish and reducing red meat could also help.16 But just like you shouldn’t start an exercise program without talking to a doctor first, don’t make any dietary changes before getting medical advice.
The Last Word
If you have any of the symptoms of poor circulation in your feet, please don’t hesitate to get medical help. It could be a sign that you have a potentially severe health problem that needs to be addressed as soon as possible. As soon as your doctor determines the cause of your poor circulation, he or she will put a plan together to get you back to being your healthiest.
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