Top 5 Symptoms of Circulation Issues

Top 5 Symptoms of Circulation Issues

Thousands of people in the United States deal with circulation issues every day. Poor circulation can cause numbness, fatigue, pain, and cold hands and feet. If left untreated, poor circulation issues can lead to varicose veins, phlebitis, deep vein thrombosis, and leg ulcers. Additionally, poor circulation can be a sign of a more severe health problem, such as cardiovascular issues, scleroderma, or diabetes.

Poor circulation generally results from a blocked or narrowed blood vessel. Hypertension, diabetes, thyroid disease, and obesity can lead to circulation issues, as can poor health habits such as smoking, excess drinking, bad diet, and lack of exercise. People who sit for long periods in the same position can also develop poor circulation.

Many of the symptoms of circulatory problems are easy to overlook or to be mistaken for something else. But these symptoms should not be ignored. Circulation issues should be taken seriously and justify a visit to your doctor. There may be some simple steps you can take to improve your circulation, or you may discover a deeper issue that requires medical treatment. You owe it to yourself to pay attention to your circulatory system.

At Metro Vein Clinic, we specialize in treatable conditions that often arise from or are exacerbated by circulation issues. These include varicose veins, leg ulcers, and phlebitis. As you improve your circulation, these issues don’t always clear up on their own, and that is where we can help. We are also here to help diagnose and make recommendations to treat circulation issues.

What are some signs that you have poor circulation symptoms? There are quite a few, but there are five main symptoms that are cause for concern.

5. Numbness

If you have “pins and needles” in your limbs, especially in your feet and hands, then you may have circulation issues. The numbness and tingling are caused by restricted blood flow. The circulatory system has to work the hardest when taking blood to the extremities, so this is where circulation problems tend to show up first.

4. Joint Pain and Cramping

In addition to numbness and tingling, circulation issues can cause pain in your arms, hands, legs, and feet. They may ache or throb, especially as blood flow returns. It often worsens if you have been sitting or standing for long periods. Cramps in your feet and calves are also signs of poor circulation. The lack of oxygen and nutrients from the improperly circulating blood is the cause of this stiffness and cramping.

3. Swelling in the Lower Extremities

Leg of diseased patient who suffers from Edema.

Fluid accumulating in certain areas of the body is a symptom of poor circulation. This fluid buildup is called edema, and it most often occurs in your legs, ankles, and feet but can also be in your hands. Edema is caused by pressure from improper circulation, forcing fluid from nearby blood vessels into the surrounding tissue.

All of the following symptoms can be signs of edema:

  • tight, warm skin
  • stiff joints
  • a feeling of heaviness
  • visible swelling
  • pain in the affected area
  • an indentation remains when you push on the swollen skin

An early sign of developing edema is when your jewelry gets too tight, or when socks and shoes no longer fit or leave visible marks.

2. Skin Discoloration

A sure sign of poor circulation is a change in the color of your skin, especially in your extremities. When insufficient blood reaches your body’s tissues due to poor circulation, the skin may appear pale or even blue. If blood is leaking from your capillaries, the skin may appear purple. Skin discoloration is most noticeable in the ears, lips, nose, nipples, hands, and feet.

1. Cold Hands and Feet

The number one symptom of poor circulation is feeling cold, especially when others do not. In particular, people with circulation issues tend to have cold toes, feet, hands, and fingers. You may have heard your grandma use the aphorism, “Cold hands, warm heart.” While that may be true metaphorically, it’s not true medically. It would be better stated, “Cold hands, overworked heart.” Cold hands are a sign of circulation issues because the reduced blood flow to your extremities makes them much colder than the rest of your body. Cold fingers and toes mean that your blood is not flowing at a healthy rate, creating temperature fluctuations in the skin and the nerve endings, leading to the numbness and tingling we discussed above.

How Can I Improve My Circulation?

couple hiking on path in forest with walking sticks

If you’ve been wondering how to improve circulation in your body, here are some tips we have found to help our patients.

Exercise is your best friend when it comes to improving your circulation. Sitting at a desk all day, only getting up for bathroom breaks or lunch, is not helping your circulation issues. You need to get up and get moving. While cardiovascular exercise is great, your activity does not need to be strenuous to improve your circulation. A brisk walk, house cleaning, grocery shopping, or some yard work are all ways you can get your heart pumping and your circulation moving.

Some people find improvement by adding fish oil or other omega-3 supplements to their daily regimen. Vitamin B and magnesium supplements have been shown to improve circulation as well. If you’re cold all the time, consider using a heated blanket, heating pad, or hot water bottle to warm yourself up. An under-desk space heater may also be a good solution.

Seek Diagnosis and Treatment

If you’re experiencing poor circulation symptoms, don’t put off seeing a doctor. At Afzal Clinics, we will evaluate your limbs and listen to your testimony to screen you for circulation issues. We can make recommendations for specific treatments, and we can assist you with vascular problems that arise from or are made worse by circulation issues.

Contact us today at 612.789.8346 or email us at We proudly serve Edina, Fridley, and the entire Twin Cities area.

We are your partner in improving your circulation and your quality of life. We look forward to speaking with you and helping you feel better today.