Foot pain might be a symptom of poor circulation - Peripheral Vascular Associates
Foot pain might be a symptom of poor circulation - Peripheral Vascular Associates

Foot pain might be a symptom of poor circulation


There are many causes for leg pain, but one of the main reasons is poor circulation which can lead to numerous health conditions or worsen those you already have. There are many causes of poor circulation, including diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Smokers are also at a high risk.

The reduced blood flow results in less oxygen being delivered to all parts of the body, which can hinder the body’s ability to function normally.

Poor circulation that is not addressed can develop into a serious disorder, and can lead to amputations, strokes and heart attacks.

Symptoms of poor circulation

If you can’t seem to escape the pain, you may have poor foot circulation. The most common symptoms of poor circulation include:

  • Painful cramping of the muscles in the hip, thigh, or calf after activity (claudication)
  • Leg numbness or weakness
  • Coldness in the lower leg or foot, compared with other parts of the body
  • A sore, poorly healing wound or ulcer on the toe, foot, or leg
  • Change in skin color or shiny skin on the legs
  • Hair loss or slower hair growth on the feet and legs
  • Slower toenail growth
  • No pulse or a weak pulse in the legs or feet


Causes of poor circulation

There are several different causes of poor circulation.

Peripheral artery disease

Peripheral artery disease (P.A.D.) can lead to poor circulation in your legs. P.A.D. is a circulatory condition that causes narrowing of the blood vessels and arteries. This occurs when plaque builds up in the artery walls and reduces or stops the blood from flowing. Plaque is a sticky substance of cholesterol, calcium and fibrous tissue. Plaque can cause arteries to become narrow and stiff, a process called atherosclerosis—also known as hardening of the arteries.

Over time, reduced blood flow in your extremities can cause:

  • numbness
  • tingling
  • nerve damage
  • tissue damage

Varicose veins

Varicose veins/Venous insufficiency is a condition associated with the inability of the venous system to adequately return blood from the legs back to the heart and lungs. The veins appear gnarled and engorged, and they’re most often found on the back of the legs. The damaged veins can’t move blood as efficiently as other veins, so poor circulation may become a problem.


Diabetes can play a role in causing poor circulation in certain areas of your body including feet. Diabetic patients will often complain of cramping in your legs, as well as pain in your calves, thighs, or buttocks, especially during times of activity. Sometime diabetics have a difficult time detecting the signs of poor circulation.


Carrying around extra pounds puts a burden on your body. If you’re overweight, sitting or standing for hours may lead to circulation problems.


There is a lot you can do to prevent poor circulation in your legs. In addition to following your doctor’s advice, you can make lifestyle changes that will greatly reduce your risk factors for poor circulation.

Smoking cessation not only improves blood circulation but also prevents a host of other diseases, including diabetes. Regular exercise — at least 30 minutes a day — will help tremendously. Eating a healthy diet with fruits and vegetables is also important for good health, and helps the body function normally.

If there is little improvement through these efforts that might be an indication of a more serious medical condition which can require the care of a physician to properly diagnose, manage and treat. In some cases angioplasty or stenting may be performed to improve circulation but more advanced cases might need surgical bypass or endarterectomy. Each patient should have their anatomy, symptoms and risks carefully analyzed to create an individualized treatment plan.

Peripheral Vascular Associates is proud to serve the San Antonio community and the surrounding areas in vascular disease education, prevention, and treatment for over 42 years. Our vascular physicians are dedicated to helping our patients better understand how we can help them with vascular disease. To learn more about Leg Circulation Problems visit or call (210) 237-4444 to set up an appointment with a PVA vascular specialist.

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