Improve Blood Circulation: Causes & Treatment

By Med-Fit UK Content Team  .  Last Updated Thursday, 9th November 2023

Improve Blood Circulation - what are the causes & what possible treatment is available 

Your vascular system plays a crucial role in disseminating blood, oxygen, and vital nutrients throughout your body. However, if blood flow to a specific part of your body diminishes, that region may not receive the essential nutrients it needs, resulting in the emergence of symptoms associated with inadequate circulation.

Inadequate circulation encompasses:

  • Tingling Sensations: Experiencing a tingling sensation in your extremities.
  • Numbness: Loss of sensation in certain body parts.
  • Throbbing or Stinging Pain in Limbs: Unpleasant pulsating or stinging pain in your arms or legs.
  • General Pain: Suffering from discomfort and pain in affected areas.
  • Muscle Cramps: Muscle contractions and spasms in specific regions.

Different Causes of Poor Circulation and Their Distinct Symptoms:

Poor circulation can stem from various underlying factors. Below, we delve into the primary causes and their associated symptoms and risks.

1. Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD)

Peripheral Artery Disease, or PAD, falls under the umbrella of Peripheral Vascular Disease (PVD). PAD is a circulatory ailment characterized by the narrowing of arteries, predominantly affecting the lower extremities, particularly the legs. A related condition, atherosclerosis, involves arterial stiffening due to plaque buildup in blood vessels. Both conditions impede blood flow to the extremities, resulting in discomfort.


  • Numbness and tingling.
  • Weakness.
  • Pain.
  • Swelling.
  • Untreated PAD can lead to nerve and tissue damage, and the presence of plaque in the carotid arteries raises the risk of strokes and heart attacks.

2. Blood Clots

Blood clots can obstruct blood flow partially or entirely, forming in various body locations. A clot in the arms or legs can lead to circulation issues. Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) involves clot formation in deep veins, often in the leg. Dislodged clots may result in a stroke, heart attack, or pulmonary embolism.

DVT Symptoms:

  • Pain.
  • Swelling.
  • Heat in the affected area.
  • Sedentary lifestyles or extended bed rest heighten the risk of DVT.

3. Varicose Veins

Varicose veins, typically found in the legs, are enlarged, gnarled, and twisted veins. They develop due to elevated pressure on blood vessels in the lower extremities or vascular damage.


  • Heaviness.
  • Aching.
  • Burning.
  • Itchiness.

Varicose veins may occasionally lead to blood clots, although they tend not to break up and cause further complications as seen in DVT.

4. Diabetes

Persistent high blood glucose levels can damage nerves and blood vessels, affecting circulation in various body parts, including the arms, legs, hands, and feet.


  • Cold or numb extremities.
  • Cracked or dry skin on the feet.
  • Brittle nails.
  • Loss of body hair on the arms or legs.
  • Bluish skin tone (more noticeable in lighter skin tones).
  • Slow wound healing.
  • Pain or cramping.

Advanced diabetes can reduce sensation in the extremities, making it challenging to detect signs of poor circulation. Untreated, ulcers and infections can develop, sometimes necessitating amputation. Diabetes also raises the risk of heart and blood vessel problems, including PAD, atherosclerosis, high blood pressure, and heart disease.

5. Obesity

Obesity poses a significant risk for circulatory problems, contributing to various issues:

  • Varicose veins due to abdominal and lower body pressure.
  • Fatty deposits in blood vessels, leading to atherosclerosis.
  • Systemic inflammation.
  • Various aspects of metabolic syndrome, including heart and kidney disease.
  • Diabetes, which can damage nerves and veins.

The causes of obesity are multifaceted and extend beyond diet and exercise.

Ways To Improve your Blood Circulation in legs?


There are a number of ways to help improve your blood circulation in your legs and feet.

  1. Quit Smoking for a Healthier Circulatory System
    Nicotine, present in cigarettes, electronic cigarettes, and smokeless tobacco, adversely affects artery walls and thickens blood, impeding its flow. Overcoming the challenge of quitting smoking is essential. Seek support from your pharmacy or doctor’s office to enhance your chances of success.

  2. Maintain Optimal Blood Pressure
    Elevated blood pressure can lead to arteriosclerosis, a condition causing arterial hardening and blood flow restriction. Aim for a blood pressure reading of 120 mmHg over 80 mmHg or lower, consulting your doctor for personalized recommendations. Regularly monitor your blood pressure using a home monitor or a pharmacy kiosk.

  3. Elevate Your Desk Habits
    Prolonged sitting weakens leg muscles and hampers blood flow, potentially causing clots. If you have a desk job, consider transitioning to a standing desk. Although an adjustment period is expected, standing encourages the functioning of leg vein valves, facilitating blood flow from the legs to the heart.

  4. Hydrate for Healthy Blood Flow
    Since blood is approximately 50% water, maintaining hydration is crucial for optimal circulation. Consume at least 8 glasses of water daily, adjusting the intake based on exercise and environmental conditions.

  5. Embrace Aerobic Exercise
    Engaging in aerobic activities, such as running, biking, walking, or swimming, increases oxygen intake, strengthens the heart, and lowers blood pressure. Set a goal of 30 minutes of exercise, 5 to 7 days a week, breaking it into manageable sessions if needed. For walkers, maintaining a moderate to intense pace (at least 3 miles per hour) maximizes health benefits.

  6. Utilize Compression Socks for Circulatory Support
    Compression socks apply gentle pressure to the legs, preventing blood stagnation and promoting upward flow to the heart. Consult your doctor to determine the most suitable sock length and pressure for your specific needs.

  7. Relaxing Baths and Tea: A Short-Term Circulatory Boost
    While not a permanent solution, indulging in a warm bath or enjoying a cup of tea can temporarily enhance circulation. The warmth opens arteries and veins, facilitating increased blood flow.

  8. Boost your Circulation with a Machine: The Medi-Boost has become an incredibly popular blood circulation machine, but also a pain relief machine all in one. 

  9. Ankle Supports that come with Compression: Ankle Supports that assist in improving blood circulation are those with compression. The ankle brace acts as a stability, whilst the compression assists with reducing any swelling and facilitating improve lymph drainage.

Risk Factors

Low circulation can be influenced by various factors, including:

  • Physical Inactivity: Lack of regular physical activity can contribute to poor circulation. Incorporating exercise into daily routines promotes blood flow and overall cardiovascular health.
  • Smoking: Smoking adversely affects the cardiovascular system, reducing blood flow and increasing the risk of conditions such as arteriosclerosis and Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD). Smoking is also a known risk factor for Buerger’s disease, a type of vasculitis that can lead to severe Raynaud’s and, in extreme cases, gangrene.
  • High Cholesterol: Elevated cholesterol levels are linked to the buildup of plaques in arteries, restricting blood flow. Managing cholesterol through a healthy diet and lifestyle is crucial for circulatory health.
  • High Blood Pressure: Hypertension poses a significant risk to circulation, potentially leading to arteriosclerosis. Monitoring and controlling blood pressure levels are essential preventive measures.

Smoking is a major contributor to circulatory problems due to its impact on the cardiovascular system. It heightens the risk of arteriosclerosis and PAD, both of which impede proper blood flow.

Moreover, smoking increases susceptibility to Buerger’s disease, a type of vasculitis that can result in severe Raynaud’s phenomenon. In extreme cases, Buerger’s disease can progress to gangrene, highlighting the severity of the circulatory consequences associated with smoking.