Poor circulation in legs and generally within the lower extremities is rather common. Many times, these circulation problems are simply a result of sitting for prolonged periods of time, or leading a lifestyle that is lacking in healthy, regular amounts of physical activity. Because the blood that is pumping through the legs is already at a disadvantage – having to battle gravity to make its way back up to the heart – a deficiency of physical activity which is useful in helping pump the blood upwards, can be a contributing factor. In addition, the distance from the lower extremities up to the heart is quite substantial, adding yet another hurdle for the sedentary person. But, there are other causes of circulation problems that are worth noting, including some health conditions that can be serious and lead to severe health concerns.
One of the most common health related diseases that contributes to poor circulation in legs and feet is diabetes, and the ominous “diabetes foot” is related to the poor circulation resulting from the condition. Foot.com explains that the narrowing of the arteries, a characteristic of peripheral artery disease, is what creates the common circulatory woes that challenge sufferers. Leg circulation is impacted by this slimming of the blood transport system, which in turn leads to a lack of necessary oxygen and nutrients making their way down to the lower extremities. Over time, this can lead to tissue damage and can even end in the loss of a limb.
In an interview with Fox News, Dr. Frank Vieth provided an in-depth look at poor blood circulation, offering insight on one of the main culprits for the condition, atherosclerosis. This condition is characterized by the narrowing or hardening of the arteries (sometimes referred to as clogged arteries), which makes it more difficult for blood to pass through, often resulting in poor circulation in legs. Because symptoms are not always easy to identify, it is not uncommon for atherosclerosis to be found once it has substantially progressed, making treatment more complicated.
Aside from long term potentially serious health risks like strokes and heart attacks, atherosclerosis can also lead to a complication known as a vasospasm. Wikipedia explains that a vasospasm is a constriction of the blood vessels that can ultimately lead to tissue death. Ischemia is a complication of a vasospasm, where life giving oxygen is cut off from tissues, a process that can lead to cell death. These serious complications indicate the seriousness of determining if a sinister underlying health condition is responsible for poor circulation in legs.
Sometimes, regardless of source, there are few symptoms present of circulatory trouble. Sometimes, cramping can occur in the lower extremities, and can be exacerbated by exercise. MD-Health.com explains that weakness or numbness present in the legs can be a symptom as well. Swelling and varicose veins are not uncommon in people with poor circulation in legs and lower extremities and, a sensation of cold is another warning sign too.
There are many treatment options for circulatory problems, however for those that are caused by underlying health conditions, it is absolutely essential that proper medical care be employed to effectively manage and treat the source of the symptoms. When left untreated, strokes, heart attacks and even death can occur as a result of these causes of poor circulation in legs, and medical care is required. For cases where a disease or condition is not involved, there are many choices for alternative and home care that can be employed, along with lifestyle changes for symptom management. For instance, circulation leg wraps and compression garments are incredibly popular. And, herbs and supplements like gingko and garlic are thought to be powerful natural ways to boost blood flow. Dietary changes including the addition of circulation system friendly foods like leafy green vegetables are also thought to be effective. And, of course, adding in a healthy dose of exercise is not only incredibly useful for relieving the symptoms of poor circulation in legs, but also contributing to greater overall health and a reduced risk of many diseases.