Poor Circulation in Legs: What You Need To Know
The human circulatory system is responsible for circulating oxygen, blood, and nutrients throughout the body. The role of the circulatory system is also vitally necessary for the proper function of other systems in the body and will affect those systems if it’s not functioning properly. When blood circulation begins to degrade, resulting in poor circulation overall, it’s inevitable that symptoms in the lower extremities (legs and feet) will begin to show their signs.
Again, blood circulation is a necessary function that our overall health and well-being is dependent upon. It takes a lot more effort for our body to draw up blood from the legs and feet because it has to work against gravity. When we walk, the muscles in our feet and legs help to pump blood upwards. When our muscles are inactive, tiny little valves in our veins remain closed, holding the blood in place to prevent backward flow. However, when our muscles contract, they cause the veins to squeeze resulting in the opening of those tiny little valves as the blood travels to our heart. In the veins, blood flow is only one-way.
Therefore, more muscle activity will result in less strain on veins and their one-way valves. Varicose veins happen when the valves in the veins become weak or damaged, resulting in blood pooling and backflow. This later causes the veins to swell which will lead to varicose veins.
Symptoms of Poor Blood Circulation
The following simple list of symptoms may be signs that you’re already dealing with poor circulation. Generally, the more inadequate your body becomes at being able to fulfill the process of circulation, the more severe and frequent these symptoms will become. While we all experience some of these symptoms from time to time even if we have good circulation, be mindful of them in terms of potential poor circulation, especially if you live a more sedentary lifestyle.
Symptoms of Poor Circulation:
- Muscle Cramps
- Pain in the Legs and Feet
- Tiredness and Aching in Extremities
- Muscle Weakness
- Stinging or Throbbing Sensation in Bodily Extremities
Furthermore, poor circulation is merely a symptom that stems from other underlying conditions. For example, Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD) can lead to poor circulation in the extremities since the condition causes a narrowing of blood vessels and arteries. Another condition called Atherosclerosis also leads to poor circulation due to plaque buildup in blood vessels and arteries. In either case, both conditions will negatively affect the circulatory’s system ability to move blood efficiently.
Causes of Poor Blood Circulation
There are many causes for poor blood circulation. Again, while many of us may experience some of the above symptoms from time to time, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you should conclude you have chronic circulation issues. However, when we experience unusual symptoms that don’t seem to have a cause, our bodies may be trying to tell us something.
Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD)
Peripheral artery disease (PAD) is a heart condition that causes the narrowing of blood vessels and arteries. As mentioned a bit ago, it is associated with atherosclerosis, a condition in which the arteries are stiffened because of plaque buildup. This condition results in poor blood circulation to the lower extremities and can result in pain.
PAD is most commonly diagnosed in people aged 50 and above. Smokers are at higher risk than non-smokers. When left untreated over time, it may cause reduced blood flow, numbness, nerve damage, tingling, and tissue damage.
Varicose veins are swollen and enlarged veins caused by incompetent venous valves. These damaged veins cannot move blood as efficiently as the other veins, resulting in poor blood circulation. While unsightly, varicose veins can also signal the potential for other serious health issues like dangerous blood clots.
Women have a higher risk of developing varicose veins. People who are overweight, obese, or sedentary also have a greater risk for varicose veins. Furthermore, those with an ancestral history of varicose veins will be more at risk since it can also be hereditary.
Blood clots can develop anywhere in the body. Blood clots in the lower extremities cause blood circulation problems. Blood clots can partially or entirely block the flow of the blood. While blood clots can be dangerous on their own, they’re especially dangerous if you have any history of heart disease.
Diabetes not only affects blood sugar in the body, it also causes poor blood circulation. Poor blood circulation experienced by diabetic people can cause pain and cramping in the calves, buttocks, or thighs. These symptoms can increase during any strenuous and physical activity.
Being obese can also cause poor blood circulation in lower extremities as well as throughout the body. More weight means more body mass, more body mass means that your circulatory system must work harder to circulate blood around the entire body. When you are obese, standing or sitting for hours may lead to more circulation problems. Other than poor blood circulation, obesity can cause varicose veins and blood vessel problems as well.
How to Improve Poor Blood Circulation in Legs
It’s amazing how simply maintaining a healthy lifestyle can ward off so many health conditions. If you notice a pattern in regards to experiencing the symptoms we mentioned earlier, it’s of utmost importance to seek medical advice. Your doctor will diagnose the causes of your poor blood circulation inefficiencies, determine whether any underlying health conditions are at fault, and recommend ways to improve your situation. Better yet, your doctor may even tell you that you just need to be a bit more active and that you don’t have any onset of any medical condition.
5 Simple Ways to Improve Blood Circulation:
Walking is an excellent exercise for anyone needing to improve their circulation. As mentioned earlier, the contraction of the muscles in the legs will assist in getting your blood flowing freely around the body. Also, if you have a job where you spend most of your time standing throughout the day, that doesn’t mean that you’re living an active lifestyle. You’ve got to keep your legs moving! Standing for long periods of time puts even further stress on your veins, so give them a rest by taking some time to sit down.
2.) Avoid Excessively Restrictive Clothing
Clothing that is very restrictive to specific areas of the body can cause vein restriction and cut blood flow. Avoid excessively tight belts, socks, and undergarments. That being said, correctly fitted support pantyhose (compression stockings)can help with varicose veins. The key here is that you don’t wear any clothing that’s abnormally tight or too restrictive.
3.) Drink Plenty of Water
An adult ought to drink at least 8 glasses of water per day. If you work outside in any labor intensive job where you may experience times of heavy sweating, be sure to drink over the recommended 8 glasses per day. Be sure to drink enough water throughout the day so that you don’t put unnecessary stress on your body’s organs to perform their proper functions. Remember, our bodies are mostly water, so it’s one thing you definitely don’t want to be short on!
4.) Wear Comfortable Shoes
It’s amazing what a difference the right pair of properly fitted shoes will make to your exercise routine. If you experience discomfort in your feet when you walk and exercise, you may simply need to get a properly fitted pair of new shoes. It’s likely that you may be more apt to take walks more frequently if you don’t need to experience discomfort in your feet when you do so.
5.) Elevation of the Legs
Elevating your legs can give those little venous valves a rest after they’ve worked so hard all day long. For those of you who definitely have poor circulation, try to find some time to rest your legs at the end of the day in an elevated position.
It’s important to make conscious decisions to improve our health so that we’re able to spend time with our loved ones doing the things we love. Poor blood circulation will impact the quality of life to some degree, but it can be prevented by simply making a few healthy alterations to our lifestyle. For those of you who already have bad circulation, it’s even more important to follow the advice mentioned above in order to provide relief for your symptoms. Most importantly, you should always be in constant communication with your doctor about any changes in your condition.
It is important to seek medical help with any new onset of symptoms because they may be signs of the onset of a medical condition; a condition that may even be prevented if caught early enough. Now that you’re more prepared to recognize the signs of poor blood circulation, you’re more ready than ever to make healthy lifestyle choices to prevent or alleviate its symptoms.
If you’ve noticed that many of the symptoms we mentioned are common to you, don’t fear! Denial and fear will never help you. Be proactive, make healthy decisions, talk to a doctor, and react appropriately to the signals your body is giving you.
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