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What Are the Symptoms of Poor Circulation?

Leg weakness may be a symptom of poor circulation.
Poor circulation can cause cramps, usually in the legs.
Random leg bruises may be a sign of poor circulation in the legs.
Red light therapy may help with poor circulation.
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  • Written By: Bryan Cowing
  • Edited By: Angela B.
  • Last Modified Date: 07 September 2014
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The symptoms of poor circulation can be alarming, but they are one way the body alerts you to a problem. Poor circulation is most often caused by peripheral artery disease (PAD), which is when the arteries become narrow and restrict the amount of blood flow to the arms, legs and extremities. Smoking, lack of exercise, and diabetes can increase the risk for PAD and poor circulation. Recognizing the symptoms of poor circulation allows early treatment and increases the chances of treating it easily.

Numbness and weakness in the legs are among the most common signs of poor circulation. It is more severe and more noticeable when standing for long periods of time or when standing in one position for a long period of time. Numbness might feel like pins and needles to some people, or it could be a lack of feeling in the skin and muscles.

Another important symptom of poor circulation is coldness in the extremities. The extremities include one's toes, fingers, and ears. The coldness is caused by the fact that warm blood is unable to flow to those areas. The numbness may mean the person who is experiencing cold extremities might not notice this particular symptom. A doctor or family member may be more likely to notice coldness in the extremities when coming in contact with them.

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For men, erectile dysfunction can also be one an indicator of poor circulation. Blood flow into the penis causes erectile tissues to expand. If blood cannot reach this area or reaches it too slowly, the tissue cannot expand and the penis may not become erect. Women with poor circulation may experience a similar lack of blood flow to the genitals.

Poor circulation can also cause painful cramps. Normally, the cramps caused by poor circulation occur in the lower half of the body, such as the hip, thigh, or calf muscle. This symptom is more likely to occur when walking or climbing stairs. This is because poor circulation decreases the amount of blood flowing to the muscles. If the muscles do not receive enough oxygen from fresh blood, it can cause cramping and pain.

The last notable symptom of poor circulation is sores on the legs that take a long time to heal. Blood flow helps heal sores and wounds. Without the proper blood flow to these areas, even small lacerations cannot heal appropriately. A person with poor circulation is also more likely to notice spontaneous bruises and sores. Poor circulation makes the skin and tissue more fragile and more susceptible to damage from even small bumps or scrapes.

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Discuss this Article

bear78
Post 3

Poor blood circulation can be sneaky. We didn't even know that grandma has a circulation problem until her doctor found sores under her feet during a routine check-up.

stoneMason
Post 2

@turkay1-- I'm not a doctor but I suffer from chronic poor circulation due to neuropathy. I get some minor swelling when I'm on my feet all day, but I don't think that this is a major sign of poor circulation. If you don't experience this frequently, it's probably just temporary edema from sitting down for too long.

If your feet start feeling cold, if you get cramping or if your skin color looks different, then I would be worried about poor circulation.

candyquilt
Post 1

Is ankle and feet swelling a sign of poor circulation in the legs or feet?

I had to take a ten hour international flight last week. When I arrived at the hotel at my destination and saw my ankles and feet, I wash shocked. My ankles were so swollen, they had become three times their regular size.

I did a foot soak and went to bed. The swelling was gone by morning but I can't stop thinking about it. Does this point to a circulation problem? And if so, what should I do?

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