Why Are My Hands and Feet Always Cold?

Written By Center for Vein Restoration
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Don’t ignore that cold or tingling sensation in your hands or feet. It could indicate an underlying circulatory problem.

Like varicose veins, persistently cold feet and hands are a sign of poor circulation. You may think the freezing or tingling feeling in your feet or hands is nothing to worry about because it can make yourself more comfortable by putting on gloves or socks. You should, however have it evaluated by a vascular doctor if the symptoms linger.

Cold feet and hands are usually symptoms of an underlying circulatory issue. If left untreated, poor circulation leads to more serious cardiovascular disease. Fortunately, once you receive a correct diagnosis, you can find a treatment that will improve your vein health and eliminate your discomfort.

Cold Feet & Hands: The Possible Causes

When insufficient blood circulates to your extremities, your hands and feet will feel cold, or you’ll experience a tingling or numb sensation in your limbs. These symptoms won’t diminish until you treat the underlying problem preventing blood from reaching your hands and feet.

To determine the cause, your doctor will assess your symptoms as well as your family and personal health history. After reviewing your condition, the doctor may order tests, such as a blood test or ultrasound, to further clarify what’s behind the symptoms. A vascular specialist can pinpoint what is causing your frigid hands and feet. The cause could be any one of these conditions:

Peripheral Artery Disease. Peripheral artery disease (PAD) is a form of atherosclerosis — a buildup of plaque in the blood vessels. As the plaque eventually narrows the vessels, blood struggles to circulate to the legs or the arms, leading to numbness and nerve damage.

Diabetes. Uncontrolled blood glucose levels can lead to plaque buildup in your arteries and veins, as well. Another serious effect of diabetes is diabetic neuropathy. This condition damages the nerves in the extremities to the point where you may not feel any sensation in your feet.

Raynaud’s Disease. Raynaud’s disease affects about 5 percent of the U.S. population. People with this condition experience cold toes and fingers due to a narrowing of the blood vessels. The symptoms are particularly acute during cold temperatures. There are two types of Raynaud’s disease: primary, for which there is no known cause; and secondary, which is typically related to another medical condition or injury that causes the arteries to narrow.

Blood Clot. A blood clot in the limbs can severely restrict blood flow, resulting in pain and swelling. If the clot travels to the heart or lungs, it can be life-threatening. But if caught early and treated, the blood clot dissolves, and circulation returns to normal.

Varicose Veins. Numbness and cold sensation are typically not associated with varicose veins, but those raised veins on your legs and feet hint at a malfunction in your circulation. Varicose veins occur when tiny valves in the veins become less elastic and unable to pump blood back to the heart. When an excess of blood pools in the vein, a varicose vein appears. Pain, swelling, heaviness, cramping, and itching characterize symptomatic varicose veins.

Treatments depend on the root cause of your circulatory problems. Non-surgical methods such as wearing compression stockings counteract sluggish circulation. Or, if you’ve been diagnosed with Raynaud’s disease, placing your hands or feet in warm water or massaging your fingers and toes revs up the circulation.

Lifestyle changes — including losing weight or quitting smoking — also boost blood flow. In some instances, medications (like insulin for diabetes, blood thinners for blood clots, alpha-blockers, and calcium channel blockers for Raynaud's disease) can help. Various minimally invasive surgical procedures have proven successful in the treatment of varicose veins.

We’re Here to Answer Your Questions

Center for Vein Restoration offers a full spectrum of services for all your vein care needs. We diagnose and treat using a variety of surgical and non-surgical methods based on your condition and preferences. Contact us today for a consultation.

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