Cold feet is a common condition that affects many patients from all walks of life. The body responds to cold temperatures by reducing the blood flow to the extremities leaving the feet vulnerable. Chronic cold feet are often a result of impaired circulation (peripheral neuropathy) and lack of mobility. Patients with Muscular Dystrophy, Multiple Sclerosis, Diabetes, Raynauld Diaseasm Arthritis and Cerebral Palsy are at risk of this condition.
One of the major causes of cold feet is peripheral neuropathy which can effect the feet and hands trying to protect core temperature.
PVD (Peripheral vascular disease) is a medical term given to a group of conditions that cause poor circulation to the legs and feet. Poor circulation can result in cold feet. Diabetes is the most common cause of PVD. Depending on the severity of symptoms, treatment may include lifestyle changes, medications and procedures designed to open clogged blood vessels.
The most common type of peripheral neuropathy damages the nerves of the limbs, especially the feet. Nerves on both sides of the body are affected. Common symptoms of this kind of neuropathy are:
1.Numbness or insensitivity to pain or temperature
2.Tingling, burning, or prickling
3.Sharp pains or cramps
4.Extreme sensitivity to touch, even light touch
5.Extremely hot or COLD feet
These symptoms are often worse at night.
Abscess and Celulitis: Localized pockets of infection under the skin.
Dry Skin or Cracked Skin: As a result of cold feet, dry skin or cracks in the skin can lead to severe infection when inadequate blood flow is present. Individuals who are affected by peripheral neuropathy are particularly vulnerable to cold and are at risk of serious complications due to poor circulation to the feet and legs. It is extremely important to keep the patients feet warm and to keep the skin moisturized.
Loss of Sensation: Chronic cold feet can result in a loss of soft and sharp touch to the feet.
Loss of sleep: Recent studies have found that cold feet can result in disrupted sleeppatterns.
Gangerene: In severe cases gangerene can occur. Gangerene is death of tissues (necrosis) which usually requires surgery.
It is important that you maintain core body temperature so warm clothing such as long johns or extra tights will trap heat. Patients should also have a pair of warm dry socks available. A hat is important because a great deal of body heat is lost through the scalp. Feet should be kept dry and warm. Some people find it helpful to wear mittens and socks to bed during winter.
To prevent PVD, patients with diabetes should focus on the basics for good diabetes control such as controlling blood glucose and cholesterol levels, quitting smoking (tobacco causes the blood vessels to constrict and makes attacks much more likely), maintaining good nutrition and exercise habits, and keeping blood pressure in a safe range.
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