Signs of poor leg circulation

Updated July 20, 2017

Poor leg circulation can be a symptom of many illnesses or conditions, including problems with the heart, high blood pressure or diabetes. And while inadequate blood circulation in the legs is a serious concern, it often exhibits mild symptoms that can go unchecked for years. Fortunately, serious issues with poor leg circulation can manifest in detectable symptoms that, when checked out, may result in early detection of serious illnesses.

Bruising or Discoloration

Minor bruises that linger for long periods of time or bluish patches on the skin of the legs can indicate poor circulation. Swelling and discolouration around the ankles and knees or on the tops of the feet demonstrate a lack of proper blood flow and can be the result of obesity, hardening of the arteries and diabetes. This type of symptom is often painless and can exist for years without appearing to be serious. However, discolouration and bruising are the first and most common signs of poor leg circulation and should be examined by a doctor.

Stasis Dermatitis

Stasis Dermatitis is a skin condition that develops as a result of poor circulation. Fluids build up under the oxygen-starved areas of the skin and begin to form dry rashes, scaling and even lesions and crusts. This symptom can look like simple hives or something as extreme as open sores, and should be checked immediately to determine the cause. Stasis Dermatitis can be a symptom of vein collapse or malfunction, or even heart failure. Generally found on the legs near the ankles and shins, Stasis Dermatitis is a very serious symptom.

Tingling or Numbness

The pins-and-needles feeling of a leg falling asleep is familiar to most people as a result of sitting in an unusual position or otherwise cutting off leg circulation for a brief period of time, with sensations lasting less than a minute. But sometimes legs can exhibit the same sensation over long periods of time, without any outside physical cause. This tingling is a symptom of poor leg circulation and can be the result of atherosclerosis (cholesterol build-up) or even vascular disease, serious medical conditions that require treatment. Numbness and tingling in the legs for long periods of time is a serious warning sign that should be examined immediately.

Pain or Fatigue

When running or walking long distances, it is natural to feel some tiredness in the legs. However, a major sign of poor leg circulation is heavy fatigue or chronic pain in the legs resulting from even brief periods of walking. This can be a sign of poor circulation from a number of conditions, including diabetes, heart disease and vascular diseases, and should be checked by your health care provider to determine the true cause. Pain may be the result of muscle or nerve damage in the leg rather than poor circulation; in any case, pain and fatigue are serious symptoms and should be diagnosed to determine the cause.

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About the Author

Chet Carrie has been writing since 2004. He served as an editor for a university magazine and has freelanced for several newspapers. Carrie holds a Bachelor of Arts in English.