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Poor Leg Circulation
Your body needs the right amount of blood flow to keep your heart pumping, your legs moving and your brain functioning. Blood circulation, the movement of blood throughout the body, is clearly crucial to your existence, and preventing poor leg circulation should be a high priority.

Symptoms of Poor Leg Circulation
Poor leg circulation is characterized by restricted blood flow to your legs.
  • In the early stages, you may experience cramping or fatigue in the legs, buttocks or feet during activity. The pain, whether it's leg pain, lower leg pain or foot pain, usually diminishes with rest, but will reoccur.
  • A tired leg, or a swelling or an aching leg can also be caused by poor leg circulation.
  • You may also have cramping that occurs in your legs and feet when you are sleeping or immobile for extended periods of time.
  • In addition, poor leg circulation may produce 'cold feet,' or feet that 'fall asleep.'

People who have extremely poor leg circulation may develop a blood clot, a sudden blockage in blood that can cause severe leg pain, cold legs or feet, and other leg circulation related problems.
What Causes Poor Leg Circulation?
A common cause of poor leg circulation is peripheral vascular disease, or PVD. This term refers to disorders involving blood vessels outside, or on the periphery, of the heart. PVD can involve peripheral arteries (blood vessels that carry blood away from the heart) or peripheral veins (blood vessels that carry blood toward the heart).

When PVD involves the arteries, it is known as peripheral artery disease, or PAD. A fatty substance called plaque builds up and hardens on the walls of the peripheral arteries, making it difficult for blood to flow through properly. The plaque takes years to build up, which is why older adults often experience very poor leg circulation.

In addition, the following behaviors or conditions can also contribute to poor leg circulation:
  • Tobacco smoking
  • Obesity
  • Lack of exercise
  • Improper diet
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Diabetes
  • Pregnancy
  • Long periods of sitting in a cramped and immobile position (Economy Class Syndrome)
Relieving and Prevent Poor Leg Circulation
The most important treatment for poor leg circulation is to address the risk factors:
  • Avoid cigarette smoking.
  • Keep your blood pressure under control.
  • Keep your cholesterol levels in the healthy range.
  • Exercise on a regular and frequent basis.
  • Consider special exercise equipment, products and shoe wear that promote circulation, such as a bed wedge or leg wedge
  • Keep moving – avoid staying immobile for long periods of time
  • Keep your feet and extremities warm.
  • Wear graduated compression hosiery and socks that help stimulate circulation.
The Podiatry Institute suggests that you always see your physician if you suspect you have poor leg circulation, as it can be a serious condition and a sign of another medical problem. Medications are available to treat poor leg circulation and to help prevent more serious consequences.

Information on foot, leg and lower body health conditions provided by The Podiatry Institute, dedicated to advancing the standard of care in podiatric medicine and its effects on muscoskeletal health. 
Disclaimer for Health Content Pages
FootSmart lower body health condition content pages describe general principles of healthcare that should not in any event be construed as specific instructions for individual consumers. This material is not intended as a guide to self-medication or as a substitute for proper medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This healthcare content is for reference only and should not be used to determine treatment for specific medical conditions – only a healthcare provider can do that.

You should discuss the information provided with a podiatrist, physician or other licensed healthcare professional, and make sure to read any product information (including package inserts) regarding dosage, precautions, warnings, interactions and contraindications before administering or using any device, support, brace, compression hosiery, shoes intended for use by diabetics, skincare product, herb, vitamin or supplement discussed on this site.

Proper treatment of lower body health conditions depends upon a number of factors, including, but not limited to, your medical history, diet, lifestyle and medications that may be taking. Your healthcare provider can best assess and address your individual healthcare needs.
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