Advice from Ospina Medical on the Importance of Good Circulation
Here at Ospina Medical, we strive to help you live a pain-free life. Unfortunately, many steps must often be taken prior to reaching this goal. Simple habits can easily be implemented to help the important aspects of the body such as circulation and posture that have profound impacts on your pain. Hear from our doctors, Dr. Raj Maniam and Dr. Matthew Kohler, on the importance of good circulation and how you can promote this in your daily life.
1. What are some signs you have bad circulation, what causes it, and how can you fix it?
“There are many causes of poor circulation, which often arises from cardiovascular conditions. Heart disease, for example, can reduce blood outflow to the rest of your body due to a weak pump mechanism. Chronic venous stasis, for example, is one other example; Poor circulation can also be related to chronic venous stasis, which is when blood pools in your veins due to inactivity or in the setting of varicosities which occur when the valves in your veins don’t function properly to prevent backflow of blood. Narrowing of the arteries in your body can also lead to circulation issues. Some examples of this are atherosclerosis leading to peripheral arterial disease from plaque formation, or Reynaud’s disease in which you develop vasospasm in peripheral arteries when exposed to specific stressors such as cold weather. The risk for poor circulation increases significantly if you are a smoker, have diabetes or certain autoimmune diseases or are overweight.
Signs of poor circulation include: cramping, numbness or tingling of the hands and feet, cold hands and feet, swelling around joints, memory loss or difficulty concentrating, fainting, digestive issues, fatigue, skin color changes or varicose veins.
Some ways to improve circulation include quitting smoking if you are a smoker, reducing intake of saturated fats and sugars to reduce risk of atherosclerosis and maintain insulin sensitivity, and remaining active with cardio exercises to maintain a healthy heart pump. If you have varicose veins, wearing compression stockings can help improve the blood flow from the veins in the lower extremities by reducing backflow in dysfunctional veins. Studies have shown that fish oils like omega-3 and drinking teas with high antioxidants help maintain a healthy heart that is strong enough to pump good amounts of blood throughout the body. Supplements that increase nitric oxide levels in your vascular endothelium, like L-Arginine or Beet Root Powder, can also improve circulation. Lastly, maintaining healthy iron levels, since iron is needed to help carry oxygen in your blood, will help overall circulation. Also be sure to speak with a medical specialist prior to starting any kind of treatment for poor circulation.”
2. What are some signs you have good circulation, what are you doing right (that you should probably keep doing), and how can you be sure to keep your circulation good?
“There are ways to confirm that you have a good circulation. The color of your fingernails and toenails should be pink and your fingers and toes should be warm. This would indicate that oxygenated blood is able to reach the farthest ends of your body. If you squeeze the fingertip until the area turns white, and you count how many seconds it takes to turn pink again, a healthy circulation should return to a pink hue in 3 seconds or less. Severe swelling should not be present, along with tingling or loss of sensation in the fingers or toes. Making sure that your muscles are not too tight and you are able to have a decent range of motion will help maintain good circulation. A good exercise to do for blood circulation is doing 20 standstill marches, 20 shoulder to ear lifts and 10 alternating knee lifts every day.”
3. What happens long term with bad circulation? At what point should you see your doctor if you have concerns about your circulation?
“Long term bad circulation is very bad for an individual's health. It has the potential to cause serious health deficits. Such deficits may include damaged tissue, nerves, veins and arteries, any of which can promote system-wide failure in the long term. Bad circulation can cause fatigue, memory loss, digestive problems, ulcers on the soles of your feet and regular discomfort or numbness in your fingertips or toes.”
4. Anything to add about good vs bad circulation, or really anything about circulation at all?
“Healthy circulation is ubiquitously critical for functions in the body. Without good circulation your body can age and break down faster as it is unable to bring oxygen, nutrients, and growth factors to the sites they are needed, in addition to having an inability to clear the potentially harmful byproducts of cellular metabolism. Movement is one of the easiest ways to maintain a healthy circulation, but diet, sleep, and stress management play a very important role as well.”
Edited By: Camden Rowe