Paresthesia and Poor Circulation Connection


The feeling of limbs “falling asleep” characterized by numbness, tingling and prickling are known as paresthesia. In most cases, this is relatively mild and has no long term physical effects. Its most commonly attributed to position where a person may lie on their hands or sit on their feet therefore contributing to the sensation. However, there is a connection between the feeling and poor circulation, and it is most notable in the elderly and people with circulatory related problems such as small fiber neuropathy.

Peripheral neuropathy can be one underlying cause of the sensation when it appears chronically. This disease is related to nerve damage within the body. Mayo Clinic explains that multiple types of nerves are affected by the condition including those that control muscle movement, regulate blood pressure and control heart rate. In this way, peripheral neuropathy can be responsible for contributing to the chronic recurrence of paresthesia in two ways, both as a result of poor blood circulation resulting from damaged nerves and as a direct result of nerve damage.

Additionally, serious underlying health conditions can also contribute to the development of paresthesia. Most often, these are conditions that can cause poor circulation in feet, such as atherosclerosis. Peripheral artery disease can also be responsible for poor foot circulation and therefore resulting in the falling asleep sensation of these lower extremities. Interestingly enough, circulatory challenges can also indirectly affect the distribution of nutrients throughout the body, and Wikipedia explains that a deficiency of some of these essential nutrients can also lead to paresthesia as a symptom.

Typically, the differentiation between causes of numbness and tingling in the limbs can be made based on whether or not the symptoms are chronic or acute. For instance, cold hands and feet as a result of exposure to cold temperatures can temporarily create paresthesia. This can be related to circulatory problems, such as in the case of Raynaud’s disease, where the abnormal and exaggerated constriction of blood vessels in the feet and hands can cause the numbing sensation and also be accompanied by pain and color changes.

But, poor circulation causes are not limited to health conditions alone, and it is not uncommon for otherwise healthy people to encounter frequent bouts of numbness in feet and hands simply as a result of overall depressed circulation. This can be from a variety of factors, but most often due to a lack of physical activity and exercise or an occupation that requires long periods of sitting, such as a desk job. In these individuals, other risk factors like smoking or being overweight can further contribute to the risk of circulatory depression and therefore, symptoms like pain, discomfort, swelling and paresthesia that can accompany it. Sometimes, this appears chronically and other times acutely during long periods of inactivity.

It is important to understand that when occurring merely as a result of sitting on or lying on the feet or hands, the sensation of these parts falling asleep is perfectly normal and is nothing to worry about. It is when the symptoms appear without provocation or are frequent or recurring that it may be worth evaluating further. This is particularly true if there are other risk factors involved such as high cholesterol, diabetes, a family history of heart problems, obesity or smoking. Because these risk factors can contribute to the long term development of serious health conditions, those who have any of them and are encountering the symptoms of poor circulation in feet, legs or hands should seek medical advice. It is possible that paresthesia resulting from this circulation problem may be the result of a potentially serious medical condition.

There are many ways to help boost circulation and therefore reduce the occurrences of these limb sensations if health condition causes have been ruled out by a health care professional. Getting healthy amounts of physical activity multiple times per week is one of the best ways. And, exercises such as ankle pumps, leg circles and finger exercises can also be employed to reduce the frequency of circulation related paresthesia. Dietary changes including the incorporation of foods that can help boost circulation such as dark green leafy vegetables and antioxidant rich blueberries are another potential benefit. And, considering alternative approaches like herbs and teas for circulation including the incorporation of gingko biloba and dandelion are also possibly helpful. It is most important that health concerns be ruled out if chronic paresthesia is present due to the serious nature behind some of the circulation related issues that can cause it. But, positive lifestyle changes can have a surprisingly helpful effect on increasing the flow of oxygen rich blood throughout the body.