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Do cold hands and feet mean a serious venous problem?

This question was asked in Rockville Center, New York and has 8 answer(s) as of 06/12/2013.
My hands and feet are always cold, even in summer. I am wondering if this could be associated to a serious venous problem and if there is any treatment?


Doctors Answers (8)

Skin temperature is regulated by our blood vessels and nerves. Arteries bring in the warm blood and veins carry that blood back to get oxygenated. Nerves interact with blood vessels to stimulate or relax the muscles that are found in the walls of blood vessels. So, if your body needs to retain heat, the muscles in arteries will be signaled to contract and reduce the amount of warm blood to the extremities. Conversely, when it is hot outside, more blood is directed to the skin to help dissipate your body heat. Some people have a more sensitive temperature regulating system than others and even slight changes in outside temperature can signal blood vessels to respond abruptly. There are some conditions where the interaction of blood vessel muscles and nerves goes haywire. An examination by a physician can determine what may be causing this problem and offer treatments.

This is most likely not a venous issue, rather arterial or nervous systems.

Venous disorders are very unlikely to cause cold hands or feet. Obstruction of flow in arteries which carry blood from the heart to the tissues can cause cold skin. If this is a severe problem, the patient usually will feel pain in the toes or fingers. Less severe obstruction of arterial blood flow may cause pain or weakness in the calves with exercise. A more common cause of skin on the fingers or toes which is cold to the touch is a constriction of the tiny arteries within the skin. This is very common in a mild form and often is worse with cold exposure, emotional upset, or vibration. When this results only in cool skin, this is viewed as a variation of normal and is not of much consequence. When the skin becomes cold on an intermittent basis with white blanching of the skin which later turns to a warm, red skin color the abnormality is referred to as "Raynaud's phenomenon". Sometimes, no underlying disorder is identified. Other patients who have Raynaud's phenomenon may have an underlying collagen vascular disease such as lupus erythematosis or polymyalgia rheumatica. Patients who have Raynaud's phenomenon need to be evaluated for the possibility of more serious disorders and the appropriate place to start with this work up is with one's primary care physician.

Cold hands and feet are a vague symptom or reduced circulation to the extremities which may be entirely normal. Women may present with these symptoms due to hormonal levels often before menopause. Inadequate arterial circulation to the extremities produces hypoxia and pain, so it is not limited to being cold. Poor venous circulation would produce venous congestion and the hands and feet would appear red to purple in color and usually not very cold. I would recommend wearing foot coverings or socks at home rather than walking in your bear feet and also protect your hands from cold weather with gloves to avoid triggering venospasms (raynaud's syndrome) and further cooling of the hands.

Cold hands and/or feet when exposed to very low temperatures, i.e. submerging your feet/hands into ice water or snow can cause severe vaso spasm of the capillary bed. This is known as Reinauds phenomenon. If this is happening to you, you should consult a vascular medicine physician for a work up. There are special tests available to confirm the diagnosis. If you're not experiencing intense blanching of the hands or feet, then you have nothing to worry about.

No, cold hands and feet do not mean a serious venous problem. You may want to get your thyroid checked and get checked for anemia. The best treatment for your problem is gloves and socks.

Generally speaking venous disease/insufficiency does not present in this manner and is usually a benign phenomena. I would suggest you mention this to your regular physician to look at a possible reason. Good luck with your inquiry.

Cold hands and feet are NOT related to vein problems. This condition is related to an abnormal response of the small arteries in the hands, feet, fingers, and toes to cool temperature. These small arteries normally spasm down in cold weather to retain body heat. As a consequence, the hands and feet get cold. In some people, this response is abnormally strong, and the arteries spasm down in normal temperatures, causing the hands and feet to feel cold much of the time. In extreme cases, this disorder is called Raynaud's Syndrome, and in addition to feeling cold, the fingers and toes can run red, blue, or white and can become numb. Keeping the hands and feet warm with socks, gloves, and pockets is the best treatment. It is also important to keep the body warm. Rarely, a calcium channel blocker medication is prescribed to help prevent arterial spasm.

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