Poor circulation in fingers: Causes, symptoms, and treatment
Poor circulation in your fingers may be the result of something as simple as being too sedentary, but it can also be the sign of a more serious condition. Many people only experience a blue or purple hue in their fingers in cold and wintery conditions, but others have poor circulation under other circumstances. Here, we take a closer look at the causes of poor circulation in the fingers and how it can be treated.
What causes poor circulation in fingers?
Poor circulation in the fingers can be caused by something common, but sometimes there is a rare condition at play. One of the most common causes of poor circulation in fingers is a lack of activity. These sufferers tend to experience poor circulation in the lower parts of the body as well, like the feet. A more serious cause of poor circulation is carpal tunnel syndrome, a condition where the medial nerve that runs from the forearm into the palm of the hand is compressed. In some cases, poor circulation can be the result of an underlying health condition.
The following list covers most of the poor circulation in fingers causes:
- Aging—as we age, our blood vessels can become stiffer and harder, limiting blood flow.
- Raynaud’s disease—an exact cause is unknown, but it is believed that hyperactivation of the sympathetic nervous system can lead to extreme narrowing of blood vessels. This is called vasoconstriction. Constriction can take place when a person is under mental or physical stress.
- Thickening of arteries—referred to as arteriosclerosis, this condition is due to high levels of cholesterol or some other disease. As a result, blood cannot move properly through hardened blood vessels.
- Diet—when diet lacks minerals, vitamins, and fatty acids for a long time, it can lead to poor circulation in the fingers. In these cases, arteries break down and have difficulty circulating blood.
- Inflammation of veins—a clot in the veins can cause inflammation. This is called thrombosis and it can lead to poor circulation in the fingers and toes.
- Peripheral neuropathy—damage to peripheral nerves can cause problems in the hands and feet. Infections, traumatic injuries, or metabolic issues can lead to peripheral neuropathy.
- Buerger’s disease—this is a disease that affects the veins and arteries in the arms and legs. It causes a reduction of blood flow as well as blood clots.
Symptoms of poor circulation in fingers
There are some common signs of poor circulation in fingers. However, other symptoms can be encountered depending on what the underlying cause of the condition is. Here is a rundown of poor circulation in fingers symptoms that are experienced most frequently.
- Tingling and prickling—some people describe this as feeling like something is crawling on them. You may have poor circulation if you feel tingling or prickling in your fingertips.
- Numbness—when people complain about numbness in the fingertips or the entire hand, it usually means they have some level of poor blood flow in the fingers.
- Discoloration—fingers turn pale, blue, or purple.
- Cold—a cold sensation in the fingers and other areas of the body is common with poor circulation.
- Pain—some pain and discomfort can occur in the fingers when they aren’t getting enough blood.
- Sores—these can form on the skin of your fingers and can take a long time to heal.
Keep in mind that someone suffering from poor circulation can experience all or just a few of the symptoms above. If you are experiencing any symptoms of poor circulation in fingers, you should seek medical attention.
Treating poor circulation in fingers
There are some cases where treatment for poor circulation in fingers can be dealt with at home. For instance, there are supplements and vitamins that can provide a boost to blood flow in mild situations. They help give the body nutrients it needs or may be deficient in to activate healthy circulation of blood. Additionally, there are foods that are known to reduce poor circulation. Dark chocolate (in moderation) is one example since it contains flavonoids thought to help increase blood circulation. Herbs such as turmeric and Ginkgo Biloba are also helpful for increasing blood flow.
Here’s a look at other treatments for poor circulation in the fingers:
- Keep warm—dress appropriately in cold weather conditions.
- Quit smoking—the nicotine in cigarettes is known to constrict blood vessels.
- Diet—eating foods high in fiber and low in saturated fats may improve clogged arteries. Omega 3 fatty acids, as wells as vitamins A, B6, C, and E are also good options to improve blood flow.
- Be active—exercise regularly. Wiggle fingers when sitting and massage your hands to keep the blood flowing. A hand exercise ball can also improve circulation.
- Avoiding cold and stress—those who suffer from Raynaud’s should try to avoid cold and use relaxation techniques to control stress.
- Address underlying cause—to treat peripheral neuropathy, for example, you may have to treat an underlying problem such as diabetes. Lifestyle changes also tend to be helpful with peripheral neuropathy.
- Measures for carpal tunnel—take short breaks from repetitive activities that require the use of hands, stretch fingers and rotate wrists, consider pain relief medications suggested by your doctor, use wrist splints at night, and avoid sleeping on your hands.
Having poor circulation in the fingers is not something to take lightly. It can be bad for your overall health. If it is left untreated for too long, it leaves you open to the risk of a number of health problems, including high blood pressure, hypertension, stroke, varicose veins, peripheral artery disease, Raynaud’s, and phlebitis.
While some people may be unable to completely reverse their circulation problem, remember that there are many ways to improve low blood flow. Those improvements could be simple methods like diet, exercise, and other lifestyle adjustments.
Related: Poor circulation treatment: How to improve blood circulation
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