What Causes Lack of Blood Circulation in the Feet?


Blood circulation is an essential function in the body. With continuous blood circulation, every organ in your body tends to function correctly as they receive the necessary levels of oxygen and nutrients. However, when different body parts, such as the feet, have poor blood circulation, you might experience various symptoms.

Poor blood circulation in the feet can be caused by serious health conditions and shouldn’t go unchecked. 

This article explores the causes of poor blood circulation in the feet and possible remedies.


Patients with diabetes are likely to experience poor blood circulation in the feet due to the high accumulation of sugar-based complexes in their blood vessels. This health issue will cause pain when walking. It often occurs if their blood glucose level has been high for an extended period.

Diabetes also increases inflammation leading to circulatory constrictions. 

Besides inadequate circulation, diabetes can cause hypertension and peripheral neuropathy. 

This problem can result in severe consequences such as ulcers, gangrene, or amputation if not treated. The best way to prevent such severe issues is by effectively managing diabetes and receiving an annual foot examination.


Atherosclerosis is the buildup of plaque (cholesterol, fats, and other substances) in the arterial walls, inhibiting blood flow. These plaque lines gradually cause arteries to be stiff and narrow. If not treated promptly, this condition can result in peripheral artery disease.

Other conditions such as diabetes, obesity, inactivity, and smoking that cause poor circulation can increase the risk of atherosclerosis. It’s vital to address these conditions once detected.

Symptoms of atherosclerosis can be similar to those of PAD (peripheral arterial disease). However, if the condition is mild, there are usually no symptoms.

Peripheral Artery Disease

Peripheral artery disease is a condition that occurs when there’s a buildup of plaque lining the arterial walls. This happens when there’s excess cholesterol and calcium in the bloodstream. The condition causes the arteries and veins in the feet to narrow, restricting the amount of blood flowing through them.

In severe cases, PAD can stop blood flow and result in tissue death or amputation. Failure to treat PAD promptly can eventually cause a heart attack or stroke. If you’re suffering from PAD, you might experience symptoms such as:

  • Leg pain – the pain goes away when one rests but starts when one begins to walk
  • Numbness
  • Cramping
  • Toenails not growing
  • Weakness in the legs
  • Pale or blue feet


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Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)

DVT or blood clot causes poor blood circulation in the feet by inhibiting or blocking blood flow through the veins. The condition may lead to pain and discoloration in the feet.

If the poor circulation in the feet results from DVT, it’s advisable to seek medical treatment immediately. Failure to treat this condition can lead to other severe issues like pulmonary embolism, stroke, or heart attack.

Raynaud’s Disease

Raynaud’s disease (Raynaud’s syndrome or Raynaud’s phenomena) is a health issue that causes your feet to feel numb and cold. The blood vessels in the feet become narrow as someone gets cold or stressed. This narrowing of blood vessels affects blood flow to the toes. In some instances, though rare, this disease may affect the ears, lips, nipples, and nose.

Most people suffering from this disease have primary Raynaud’s syndrome. Secondary Raynaud’s syndrome is rare but more severe than the primary version. Raynaud’s is more common in women and people living in cold regions.

Symptoms of Raynaud’s disease include:

  • Pain
  • Numbness
  • Toes turning blue or white
  • Burning sensation
  • Tingling
  • Cold extremities

Unfortunately, there’s no cure for Raynaud’s syndrome. However, you can rely on medical treatment and various lifestyle changes to reduce its symptoms.

Obesity and Pregnancy

Being overweight due to obesity or pregnancy can cause poor blood circulation in the feet. The excess weight rests on the veins of the feet, leading to blood circulation problems. Additionally, obesity hampers the efficient pumping of blood from the heart to the feet.

If not addressed, obesity can increase the risk of blood clots, heart disease, and diabetes, which may intensify blood circulation issues in the feet.


Movement helps keep the heart healthy so it can pump blood smoothly. That’s why individuals, especially seniors who live a sedentary lifestyle, are at risk of circulation problems. Poor circulation due to inactivity can improve once you start to move or exercise again.

Varicose Veins

Varicose veins (varicoses or varicosities) are twisted, enlarged veins that may appear in the feet. These large, swollen veins may even appear discolored in some people. Varicose veins can be attributed to genetics, so if your family members have them, you’re more likely to have them.

This condition results from valve failure causing poor circulation in the feet. In extreme cases, varicose veins can cause blood clots.


Besides causing other severe health issues, smoking can cause poor blood circulation in the feet. Chemicals in cigarette smoke thicken the blood and form clots in the arteries. Thick blood or clots makes it hard for the human heart to pump blood to the feet efficiently.

Additionally, nicotine causes blood vessels to narrow, causing poor circulation in the feet. Other health issues, such as stroke and heart attack, may result from poor circulation due to smoking.

High Blood Pressure

Individuals with high blood pressure (hypertension) are more likely to develop poor circulation in the feet. Blood tends to push against the blood vessels of the feet, weakening or damaging them. Weak or damaged blood vessels hamper the efficient flow of blood in the feet.

Moreover, fats may collect in the damaged blood vessels, making the walls less elastic. As a result, these vessels limit blood flow in the feet.

Final Thoughts

Poor blood circulation in the feet can result from various health and lifestyle issues such as diabetes, atherosclerosis, PAD, DVT, Raynaud’s syndrome, and smoking, among others. If your health or lifestyle puts you at risk of poor circulation, visit your podiatrist for a medical checkup. You’ll learn various ways to manage your condition.

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