What Causes Poor Blood Circulation?

Poor circulation, on its own, is not considered a condition. Instead, it’s a result of other issues. Something that must be dealt with directly. That is why it is important to know what causes poor blood circulation.  

Peripheral Arterial Disease 

The first condition of note is Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD.) PAD, specifically, can cause poor circulation in the legs and feet. The disease is associated with a condition called atherosclerosis — which occurs when plaque builds up in the arteries and blood vessels.  

This can, ultimately, result in narrowed arteries and blood vessels — which restricts the flow of blood. People who suffer from poor blood circulation caused by PAD often experience sharp or numbing pain in the legs and feet during or post-exercise.  

If diagnosed early enough, a patient should be able to treat the symptoms of PAD (even if no known cure is available) through a series of lifestyle changes. If not, the disease could easily result in coronary and cardiovascular risks, including heart attacks and stroke.  


Although diabetes is better known to cause poor blood sugar levels, it can also cause poor blood circulation. In fact, according to recent studies, diabetes has been known to increase a person’s risk for atherosclerosis, which is the main cause of PAD. What’s worse, the risk of coronary and cardiovascular events increases in patients with both PAD and Diabetes — and in some cases might even result in death.  

Blood Clots 

Another common cause of poor blood circulation is blood clots. These, as you might already know, either completely or partially block the flow of blood. Unlike PAD, blood clots can naturally occur throughout the body (not just in the extremities.)  

A blood clot can become very dangerous, because it can travel or break away from its current location of obstruction (unlike plaque — which is stuck against the arterial wall.) When blood clots move, they can travel all the way to the heart or lungs. This can cause serious conditions that might result in death, especially if left untreated. 


Obesity has also been linked to poor circulation, especially those who constantly find themselves in a stationary position (whether it be sitting or standing.) One also has to consider the fact that obesity can increase the risk of other conditions that can cause poor circulation as well (including varicose veins.)  

Raynaud’s Disease 

Although not as common, there are those (especially those who live in colder climates) who might become afflicted with Raynaud’s Disease. This condition primarily affects the small arteries in the fingers and toes, and it might appear symptomatically as cold hands or feet.   

Conclusion — What Causes Poor Blood Circulation? 

Although there are a great many conditions that can potentially cause poor blood circulation, the aforementioned conditions are the most common. Fortunately, most of these conditions, or at least its symptoms, can be treated if diagnosed early enough. It’s all a matter of identifying what issues you might be suffering from, and getting the help that you need.  


  1. Kielhorn, Caitlin E, and Ehrin J Armstrong. “Peripheral Artery Disease in Patients with Diabetes: Epidemiology, Mechanisms, and Outcomes.” World Journal of Gastroenterology, Baishideng Publishing Group Inc., 10 July 2015, www.wjgnet.com/1948-9358/full/v6/i7/961.htmPage Break
  2. “Raynaud’s Disease.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 31 Oct. 2017, www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/raynauds-disease/symptoms-causes/syc-20363571