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Definition and Common Causes of Poor Circulation

Poor circulation, a medical condition also known as circulatory insufficiency, refers to the inadequate flow of blood through the blood vessels, impairing the distribution of oxygen and nutrients to the body's cells and organs. The feet are often affected, leading to a variety of symptoms, including numbness, tingling, and muscle cramps. Several factors can contribute to poor circulation. Atherosclerosis, the buildup of plaque in arteries, narrows the blood vessels, reducing blood flow. Conditions such as diabetes can damage blood vessels and nerves, further impeding circulation. High blood pressure, obesity, and smoking are well-known risk factors that can harm blood vessels and hinder the circulatory system. In some cases, genetics can play a role, as a family history of circulatory issues may increase one's susceptibility. If your feet are cold for the majority of the day, it is suggested that you schedule an appointment with a podiatrist who can accurately diagnose poor circulation, and offer appropriate treatment methods.

Poor circulation is a serious condition and needs immediate medical attention. If you have any concerns with poor circulation in your feet contact one of our doctors of New England Foot & Ankle . Our doctors will treat your foot and ankle needs.

Poor Circulation in the Feet

Poor blood circulation in the feet and legs is can be caused by peripheral artery disease (PAD), which is the result of a buildup of plaque in the arteries.

Plaque buildup or atherosclerosis results from excess calcium and cholesterol in the bloodstream. This can restrict the amount of blood which can flow through the arteries. Poor blood circulation in the feet and legs are sometimes caused by inflammation in the blood vessels, known as vasculitis.


Lack of oxygen and oxygen from poor blood circulation restricts muscle growth and development. It can also cause:

  • Muscle pain, stiffness, or weakness   
  • Numbness or cramping in the legs 
  • Skin discoloration
  • Slower nail & hair growth
  • Erectile dysfunction

Those who have diabetes or smoke are at greatest risk for poor circulation, as are those who are over 50. If you have poor circulation in the feet and legs it may be caused by PAD and is important to make changes to your lifestyle in order to reduce risk of getting a heart attack or stroke. Exercise and maintaining a healthy lifestyle will dramatically improve conditions.

As always, see a podiatrist as he or she will assist in finding a regimen that suits you. A podiatrist can also prescribe you any needed medication. 

If you have any questions please feel free to contact our offices located in Wakefield, MA, Nashua and Derry, NH . We offer the newest diagnostic and treatment technologies for all your foot and ankle needs.

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