Dr. Sendhil Subramanian at Georgia Vascular Institute specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of a variety of vascular problems, including peripheral arterial disease (PAD), varicose veins, spider veins and varicoceles.
Because poor circulation can have a number of causes, it’s important to know the warning signs and symptoms--and to seek treatment when the symptoms don’t go away over time.
If your symptoms of poor circulation don’t go away, they could be a sign of PAD, a condition characterized by narrowed arteries and reduced blood flow to the extremities. PAD is closely associated with atherosclerosis, the build-up of fat, calcium and cholesterol in arteries. If left untreated, peripheral arterial disease can increase the risk of blood clots, heart attack, stroke, and coronary artery disease.
Here are some important signs of poor vascular health.
Numbness in the lower extremities, especially the feet, can indicate a lack of adequate blood flow to those areas. This is why your foot becomes numb when it falls asleep, but regains feeling after you move or readjust. As the blood flow returns, the nerves are able to function again, allowing feeling and sensation to return.
Nerves require a continuous flow of oxygenated blood to function. Without adequate blood supply, the nerves malfunction, and sensation is reduced. Over time, poor vascular health can lead to near-total numbness in the lower extremities.
Poor blood flow to the extremities can also cause a painful tingling sensation, especially in the ankles and feet.
As the arteries in the feet receive less oxygenated blood, the nerves in those areas begin malfunctioning. Numbness and tingling in the feet often occur together as the nerves in the extremities are starved of adequate blood supply.
One of the most common symptoms of poor circulation is muscle cramps, pain or throbbing in the extremities that occurs during periods of movement, like walking or climbing stairs. Often, the pain goes away after a few minutes of rest.
In people with chronic poor circulation or peripheral arterial disease, muscle pain and cramping can persist even during long periods of rest or while trying to sleep.
Skin that doesn’t receive adequate blood supply can become brittle, shiny, and discolored. Many people with poor circulation experience rough, irritated, itchy skin that looks scaly or feels thick to the touch.
The skin requires a constant supply of oxygenated blood to remain healthy. When the arteries in the legs and feet don’t receive adequate blood supply, the skin in these areas can become inflamed, dehydrated and brittle. Over time, this skin can break down, leading to dangerous sores and ulcers that can breed serious infection. Sometimes, this can lead to limb amputation.
If you are experiencing symptoms of poor vascular health, you may need to talk to your doctor about your risk factors for developing PAD.
The following risk factors increase a person’s chance of experiencing poor circulation and poor vascular health:
- Being over 65
- High Cholesterol
- Previous injuries to arms or legs
- Family history of vascular disease
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Smoking or tobacco use
- Being male
- Being a postmenopausal woman
The symptoms of PAD can often be controlled through changes to your lifestyle, like losing weight, quitting smoking and becoming more physically active.
More severe cases of PAD may require surgical intervention, such as angioplasty, to lower a person’s risk of heart attack, stroke or limb amputation.
Georgia Vascular Institute is a leading provider of diagnosis and treatment for vascular issues in northern Georgia.
Contact our offices today to learn more about our services or to schedule your appointment.