Effective circulation depends largely on the healthy endothelial lining of the blood vessels and also to the health of surrounding tissues. Excessive pressure due to tumor, trauma, swelling or physiological conditions like pregnancy can significantly impede the flow of blood leading to poor circulation in legs, which will affect mobility and physical independence. The management and treatment options depend largely on the inciting cause.
|Common physical signs of poor circulation are impaired wound healing and discoloration of limbs. In case of bluish or dark purplish hue of skin of lower limbs or a particular spot that is colder to touch, it is very important to investigate immediately to decrease the risk of complications.|
|The area of skin that has poor circulation is cold to touch as compared to rest of the skin. You may also feel numbness and paling of skin.|
|The most characteristic feature of poor circulation in lower limb is pain and pulselessness that aggravates after inactivity (due to ischemic changes in the limb).|
|Numbness is yet another common feature that becomes much pronounced after periods of prolonged standing.|
|Dermatitis is the result of toxin buildup due to poor circulation of limbs that prevents the elimination of chemicals and metabolic end-products of biological processes. Other features of dermatitis are itchiness, scaling of skin, flaking and other signs of inflammation.|
|Stasis ulcers are also reported due to poor circulation that results in excessive pressure in some smaller vessels leading to edema and swelling. Prolong stasis leads to ulcers.|
Uncontrolled or chronic diabetes is a recognized risk factor in the pathogenesis of poor circulation in legs. Persistently raised blood sugar levels osmotically attract water leading to endothelial swelling of cells. This leads to damaged vessel walls and affect the flow of blood across the veins leading to a variety of complications like venous stasis ulcers, poor wound healing of legs and gangrene of toes/ foot that may require amputation.
Certain physiological and pathological conditions that increase the intra-venular pressure can lead to incompetency of vein valves leading to impaired forward flow. Venous insufficiency is indeed the most common cause of pathological limb swelling and pain or discomfort requiring medical attention.
In some susceptible individuals blood vessels undergo narrowing in response to emotional stimuli, extreme cold and other hormonal or stress related factors leading to impaired blood circulation across these vessels. A similar condition is peripheral artery disease that is marked by narrow caliber arteries due to age related thickening or deposition of atheroma or cholesterol droplet.
Other notable factors that may lead to poor circulation in legs are certain jobs/ occupations that require long periods of inactivity or sedentary lifestyle, military jobs that require long hours of standing, high serum cholesterol levels that have a propensity to clog the vessel lumen, thrombus formation due to impaired serum balance of coagulation factors and anti-coagulation factors, genetic disorders like Protein C and Protein S deficiency.
Exercise and regular physical activity is overly helpful in promoting healthy circulation. Walking can greatly influence the blood flow so it is recommended to walk at least half an hour a day and gradually increase the duration and distance.
Proper dietary intake of essential nutrients especially including vitamin A, C and E, makes the immune system healthy and blood circulation steady.
Drinking water up to 2 liters per day is helpful in supporting normal circulation across all major organs and organ systems of the body. Staying hydrated elevates the blood pressure in a positive way.
Anticoagulants may be used if the condition is associated with blood clots.
Surgical procedures may be required in certain cases such as revascularization, angioplasty, atherectomy,endarterectomy and peripheral artery bypass in situations when the condition is associated with narrowed arteries.
Treatment of underlying disease is extremely important, especially if the condition is associated with metabolic and medical conditions like kidney failure and heart diseases, hypertension and diabetes etc.
Keep yourself steady and physically mobile. Avoid prolong periods of inactivity that may lead to stasis and coagulation of blood.
Individuals who are diagnosed with peripheral vascular disease or those who are at risk of developing thrombo-embolic events are also advised compression stockings that are helpful in maintaining steady circulation.
In order to relieve symptoms and to enhance circulation by decreasing the effect of gravity you can also use wedge cushion at bed-time that elevates the foot side of the bed in comparison to the head side.