Poor Circulation in Hands Causes, Symptoms and Treatment
Typically, when most people think of poor blood circulation, thoughts immediately migrate south to the legs and feet, the commonly affected areas by a lack of blissfully unrestricted blood flow. But, the hands are not immune to the condition. While generalized conditions such as clogged arteries from atherosclerosis and blood pumping inhibition from peripheral artery disease are sometimes responsible for poor circulation in hands, there are other causes that are more specific to the abundantly used body parts. And, this specific symptom location also comes with its own methods for relief and treatment too.
The symptoms of decreased hand circulation can be very problematic given the frequent use of them. Weakness, tingling and numbing are not uncommon. Dr. Bartlett explains that the sensation of the hands falling asleep accompanied by pain can be another sign. A reduction in the ability to grip as well as feelings of cold can also be signs of a reduction in hand circulation. The urge to shake the hands can also appear, typically in response to other symptoms.
One of the most common causes of poor circulation in hands is carpal tunnel syndrome. This typist’s nightmare can create a wide variety of symptoms ranging from pain to numbness and everything in between. While the anatomical characteristics of the condition are rather complicated given the intricacies of the structure of the hand, essentially, inflammation of the tendon surrounding membranes resulting in pressure build up is the basic presentation of carpal tunnel. This can create poor circulation in the hand, as the increased volume from swelling puts pressure on the contained nerves.
Similarly related, cubital tunnel syndrome can create a similar sensation. Although its location is different, it involves a condition that is comparable to carpal tunnel but occurs in the elbow. Dr. Tomaino explains that when the syndrome is present, the ulnar nerve found here is stretched, which can impair circulatory function. Although appearing further up the arm, symptoms of poor circulation in hands can result from the condition. This is because the affected ulnar nerve runs down along the forearm and into the hand.
Another cause of poor circulation is Raynaud’s disease. During times of stress or in response to cold temperatures, the blood vessels found in the hands narrow, which can lead to impaired circulation, according to Mayo Clinic. This can lead to symptoms such as color change (where the hands appear blue) a sensation of coldness and numbness or tingling. While Raynaud’s is a cause of poor circulation in hands, the disease can also affect the nose and toes as well.
In general, circulation problems can also be caused from a lack of exercise and a sedentary lifestyle. The body uses physical activity as a secondary source of blood pumping action and while this is more challenging in the lower extremities, reduced blood flow throughout the body as a consequence of too little exercise or an occupation that involves long periods of inactivity can also contribute to poor circulation in hands, just as it can in other parts of the body. Because of the numerous causes of circulation problems including lifestyle factors as well as some of the aforementioned health conditions, it is very important to consult with a health care provider if symptoms are present in order to determine the source of poor circulation in hands.
There are many treatment options for issues within the circulatory system. If health conditions are present, medical care is absolutely essential to managing and treating the underlying illness. Alternative treatments and home care can be employed alongside medical care if approved by a physician or on their own once more sinister causes of poor circulation in hands have been ruled out. For instance, symptoms from conditions like carpal tunnel can often be reduced by the use of various wrist guards and braces, especially if typing is a daily part of an occupation. And, everyday exercises such as finger stretches, where the hand is made into a fist and then the fingers fully extended in alternating sequences, can be performed intermittently throughout the day to boost circulation. Acupuncture for circulation is an ancient form of treatment that has become much more popular in recent years as evidence has begun to surface showing that there is potential for symptom relief from the centuries old form of alternative therapy.
There are also herbal and dietary methods to increase blood circulation. For instance, pomegranates and blueberries and other antioxidant rich foods are thought to be beneficial to boosting blood flow. And, dark chocolate is also considered a potential circulation helper thanks to the flavonoids it contains. Sunflower seeds and other nuts, chock full of vitamin E, are thought to be potential foods that may increase blood circulation. And, heart healthy edibles containing Omega-3s may also be beneficial to sufferers of circulatory woes.
Poor circulation in hands can lead to painful and long lasting symptoms. In most cases, it is a result of a condition that requires the evaluation and treatment of a medical provider. Paying attention to symptoms that may indicate a reduction in blood circulation can be the easiest way to identify these conditions early on, which can make treatment more successful. And, lifestyle changes, dietary considerations and home care essentials can make day to day symptom management more effective.