Acrocyanosis is a disorder that affects the arteries supplying blood to the skin of the hands and feet. Spasm of the arteries can occur, blocking the flow of blood.
These small arteries carry oxygen and nutrients through the blood to the skin of the hands and feet. When the blood cannot flow through, the skin will lack the necessary oxygen required, and turn a dark blue to purple color. This characteristic color is called cyanosis.
Acrocyanosis is seen more frequently in woman than in men. Symptoms include persistently cold temperature and blue discoloration, sweaty or moist skin, and swelling.
Treatment includes insulated boots, thin polypropylene liner socks to wick the moisture away from the skin, and an insulated sock to maintain normal skin temperature.
Alcoholic peripheral neuropathy is a nerve loss condition in the foot caused by the prolonged use of alcoholic beverages. Ethanol, the alcoholic component of these beverages, is toxic to nerve tissue. Over time, the nerves in the feet and hands can become damaged resulting in the same loss of sensation as that seen in diabetic neuropathy. The damage to these nerves is permanent.
A person with this condition is at the same risk, and should take the same precautions as people with diabetic peripheral neuropathy. Peripheral neuropathy can also be caused by exposure to toxins such as pesticides and heavy metals.
Treatment includes Vitamin B12 injections, certain oral medications that may ease the burning pain, topical ointments, magnetic therapy, and galvanic stimulation. Consult us before taking any medication.
Chilblains (cold feet)
Chilblains are caused by the skin’s abnormal reaction to cold and is another term for “cold feet.” Your circulation is a determining factor. Those with poor circulation are more susceptible.
Chilblains are small itchy, red swellings on the skin, which can become increasingly painful, swell and then dry out, leaving cracks in the skin and exposing the foot to the risk of infection. They occur on the toes, particularly the smaller ones, fingers, the face, especially the nose, and the ear lobes. They can also occur on areas of the feet exposed to pressure, for instance, on a bunion or where the second toe is squeezed by tight shoes.
Symptoms include burning and itching, swelling or redness, breaks in the skin, and ulcers.
Treatment includes keeping your body, feet and legs warm, especially if your circulation is poor and your mobility is limited.
Calamine will take away most of the discomfort. Apply an antiseptic dressing if the chilblain has ulcerated.
Erythromelalgia is a rare disorder that includes enlargement of the blood vessels in the feet.
The blood vessels are open or dilated and the oxygen and heat of the blood is discharged into the tissues, making them turn red and feel hot all the time. Treatment includes using drugs that induce restriction or opening of the blood vessels.
People with constricted blood vessels or related circulatory problems should wear socks and well insulated shoes to maintain heat. Some may be more comfortable in sandals, going barefoot, or certainly using a light shoe that can ‘breath’ to allow heat to escape. In severe conditions, pain medications can be helpful. Consult us before taking any medication.
Ischemic foot refers to a lack of adequate arterial blood flow from the heart to the foot. There are a wide variety of possible causes, including arterial blockage from cholesterol deposits, arterial blood clots, arterial spasm, or arterial injury. An ischemic foot suffers from an inadequate blood supply reaching the foot to provide the oxygen and nutrient needs required for the cells to continue to function.
Treatment includes walking exercises to increase blood flow, protective shoes and insoles if necessary, and medications. Consult us before taking any medication.
Neuromas are enlarged benign growths of nerves, most commonly between the third and fourth toes. They are caused by tissue rubbing against and irritating the nerves. Pressure from poorly-fitting shoes or abnormal bone structure can create the condition as well. Treatments include special shoes or inserts and/or cortisone injections, but surgical removal of the growth is sometimes necessary.
Hand or foot spasms are contractions of the hands, thumbs, feet, or toes and are sometimes seen with muscle cramps, twitching, and convulsions. These contractions of the muscles can be violent.
Spasms of the hands or feet are an important early sign of tetany, a potentially life-threatening condition. Tetany is a manifestation of an abnormality in calcium level, which can be linked to a lack of Vitamin D, lessened function of the parathyroid glands, alkalosis in the body, or the ingestion of alkaline salts.
Carpopedal spasms are usually accompanied by numbness, tingling, or a “pins-and-needles” feeling in the fingers, toes, and around the mouth; muscle weakness; fatigue; cramping; twitching; and uncontrolled, purposeless, rapid motions.
Common causes include:
- Hyperventilation (calcium becomes temporarily unavailable to the body during hyperventilation).
- Muscle cramps, usually caused by sports or occupational muscle injury.
- Parkinson’s disease and other neuromuscular conditions.
Treatments may include calcium and Vitamin D supplements (if you have a deficiency). Consult your physician before taking any medication.
Venous stasis is a loss of proper vein function of the legs that would normally carry blood back toward the heart. This may occur following injury to the veins, which can result in blood clots in the superficial veins known as superficial phlebitis, or following blood clots in the deep veins known as deep venous thrombosis.
Swelling in the lower legs and ankle can also occur as a result of chronic congestive heart failure and kidney disease. In some instances the cause of the swelling may not be easily identified.
Individuals with this condition usually exhibit swelling of the legs and ankles. The superficial veins in the legs may be varicose, causing the veins to be enlarged and appear as a cord or a bunch of grapes. Patients often complain of a feeling of fullness, aching, or tiredness in their legs. These symptoms are worse with standing, and are relieved when the legs are elevated. As the condition progresses the blood continues to collect in the feet, ankles, and legs.
Treatment includes rest, elevation, and compression stockings.