How to Improve Poor Circulation in the Hands and Fingers

Updated March 21, 2017

If you have cold, numb or tingling hands and fingers, you may be more focused on relieving your symptoms than in determining the underlying cause. Lifestyle changes can help but you may also need medication or surgery if your symptoms are caused by diabetes, Raynaud's disease, anemia, an autoimmune disease called scleroderma or peripheral artery disease, according to The goals of treatment for circulatory problems include relieving symptoms, treating the underlying cause and preventing future problems.

Learn the Facts

Discuss your symptoms with your primary care provider if you do not know the underlying cause of your condition. Depending on your diagnosis, you may need prescription medication or surgery to address your circulatory problems. If you have Raynaud's disease, your health care provider may prescribe medications to dilate or widen your veins, according to the Vascular Disease foundation.

Peripheral artery disease, caused by atherosclerosis or a buildup of plaque in your arteries, may require medications for high blood pressure, high cholesterol and prevention of blood clots, according to Diabetes damages blood vessels, so taking insulin or oral medications may be necessary as well. A blockage in a vein or artery may require surgery.

Avoid Vasoconstrictors

Avoid substances that constrict your blood vessels, including over-the-counter cold medications that contain pseudoephedrine; caffeine; certain medications for high blood pressure, such as metoprolol, nadolol and propranolol. If you take birth control pills, you may wish to change to another contraceptive method, according to Regardless of the cause of your symptoms, quit smoking and avoid second-hand smoke as tobacco constricts the blood vessels and can make the underlying condition worse, according to the Merck Manual.

Move Body

Exercise regularly to improve your overall circulation and control your weight. If your condition affects your legs as well as your arms, it may be difficult to walk or run, so ask your health care provider about appropriate exercise routines. If only your hands are affected, try wiggling your fingers, making wide circles with your arms and massaging your hands to stimulate circulation, advises

Protect Hands

Protect your hands from the cold to avoid injury and constriction of the blood vessels. Wear mittens to remove items from the freezer, avoid sudden changes in temperature from warm to cold, says the Vascular Disease Foundation. If your hands are cold, place them under your armpits or run warm water over them. Your hands are vulnerable to injury, so check them daily for sores or other injuries; keep your nails smooth; and avoid wearing constrictive sleeves, rings or bracelets, says


Reduce the level of stress in your life. Stress can aggravate circulatory problems, so find a relaxation practice such as yoga or meditation that you enjoy and do it daily, according to Learn to identify and avoid potentially stressful situations if possible. If your health care provider agrees, learn biofeedback techniques such as guided imagery, relaxation and deep breathing to regulate your body temperature.

Consider Invasive Treatment

Discuss your condition with your health care provider if your symptoms do not improve after making lifestyle changes and treating the underlying condition. For Raynaud's disease, treatment may include injecting or cutting nerves that control the opening and narrowing of the blood vessels in the arm, according to Blocked blood vessels may require surgical removal or injection of a drug to dissolve a clot or a bypass of the area that is blocked, according to the Merck Manual.

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About the Author

Marcy Brinkley has been writing professionally since 2007. Her work has appeared in "Chicken Soup for the Soul," "Texas Health Law Reporter" and the "State Bar of Texas Health Law Section Report." Her degrees include a Bachelor of Science in Nursing; a Master of Business Administration; and a Doctor of Jurisprudence.