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5 Signs You Have "Bad Circulation," According to Experts

What to know about bad circulation and signs you have it.
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

Getting older comes with aches and pains, but not everything you experience is a normal part of aging and that includes poor circulation. Although the condition happens to people mostly over 40, that doesn't mean it's part of the aging process. Bad circulation can happen as a result of an underlying health problem like diabetes, heart conditions, and arterial issues and if left untreated, the issue will not resolve itself, but instead lead to serious complications like blood clots, infected ulcers and in extreme cases, amputation. Eat This, Not That! Health spoke with experts who share signs of bad circulation to watch out for and symptoms that can be missed by physicians. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.


Pins and Needles Sensation

Ankle pain, painful point. Unhappy woman suffering from pain in leg at home

Chris Tutt, PT, MS, MBAis the CEO,ProActive Physical Therapy Specialists  and VP Clinical Operations-Confluent Health says, "When circulation is reduced you can often feel the sensation of pins and needles tingling, especially in your extremities. This is because blood is not reaching the area in amounts that are adequate for their nutrition. This is most often experienced in the hands and feet."


Cold Hands and Feet

Swollen feet

Dr. Tutt explains, "Blood carries heat and nourishment to all areas of our body. Reduced circulation causes your hands and feet to feel colder than the rest of the body because there is not enough warm blood flow to the area." 



woman hands holding and massage her calf, suffering from calf pain

According to Dr. Tutt, "Most often edema is seen in the hands, ankles, and feet. When your body cannot circulate fluids in or out of an area, swelling can result. As swelling increases, it puts pressure on the blood vessels forcing fluids from the blood vessels into the surrounding tissues resulting in swelling." 


Joint Pain and Muscle Cramping

Woman suffering from hand pain.

Dr. Tutt states, "Poor circulation can cause pain in your feet, legs, arms and hands. Poor circulation can also cause pain in your calves which is worse when sitting or standing for long periods. When circulation is reduced to muscles, nutrients cannot reach tissues as well as they should and you feel stiffness and cramping." 


Skin Color Changes

manage joint pain

Dr. Tutt says, "You may see a pale or blue color in your tissues if the amount of blood is insufficient. It is mainly seen in hands, toes, noses, and lips."


The Following Symptoms are Often Overlooked


Dr. Naheed A. Ali, MD, PhD with USA RX tells us, "When blood arteries narrow or clog, blood can't circulate correctly across the body. Pain and tissue damage can result. Having swollen legs, feet, and hands from damaged blood vessels. Bad circulation can cause tingling or numbness in your toes, feet, and fingers or hands. Any swelling develops at the toes and fingers. Since these symptoms aren't often severe, doctors may overlook them. If they worsen, they can signal lower-limb venous insufficiency."


You Must Treat Poor Circulation


Dr. Tutt shares, "Treatment of poor circulation must be addressed depending upon the underlying cause. Poor circulation is influenced by both lifestyle and various diseases. For example, atherosclerosis (narrowing/hardening of the arteries) and diabetes can cause circulation problems and present with the above symptoms. Lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking, losing weight, exercising, and eating a healthy diet can all improve circulation and reduce problems. Early detection followed by appropriate early treatment can help to improve circulation. Wearing compression stockings can also help to reduce the swelling in your legs and can be purchased from your local pharmacy or department store.. There are many causes of poor circulation and if you do not do something about poor circulation it will not get better.  The good news is you can improve your circulation!"

Heather Newgen
Heather Newgen has two decades of experience reporting and writing about health, fitness, entertainment and travel. Heather currently freelances for several publications. Read more about Heather
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