Poor arm circulation can cause tingling, numbness and a sensation of cold in the arms and hands. These symptoms may range in severity from mild and annoying to painful and disabling. Impaired blood flow to your lower arm, wrist and hand may also contribute to carpal tunnel syndrome and slow the healing of wounds and infections in your hands and arms. Increasing circulation in the arms involves uncovering and treating any underlying causes of the problem and making a few lifestyle and dietary changes to improve blood flow.
Incorporate at least 30 minutes of moderately intense aerobic activity into your day. Walking briskly, swimming, jogging and similar activities increase circulation in the arms by increasing and improving heart function, controlling weight and promoting healthy cholesterol levels.
Work the muscles in your arms and hands by doing pushups, lifting weights or performing resistance training. Improving your muscle tone improves the ability of your muscles to use oxygen.
Correct any problems with your posture that may be affecting arm circulation. Sit up straight when working at a desk or table, take frequent breaks to move around and resist the urge to rest your arm or wrist on the edge of your desk.
Limit the amount of caffeine in your diet. Caffeine causes blood vessels to constrict and contributes to poor arm circulation.
Stop smoking. Like caffeine, smoking triggers a constriction of blood vessels that impairs circulation. Quitting smoking also improves your overall health and makes exercise easier, both of which benefit circulation.
Control your cholesterol levels and limit the amount of trans and saturated fat in your diet. Eat a balanced diet that includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, lean meats, low-fat dairy and whole grains. High cholesterol levels may negatively affect circulation, and being overweight can reduce blood flow to your extremities.
Determine whether medications you are taking may be affecting the circulation in your arms. Even some over-the-counter cold and allergy medications, such as those that contain pseudoephedrine, can inhibit circulation. A change in medication or dosage may alleviate your symptoms. Speak with your doctor and pharmacist.
Take a vasodilator or calcium channel blocker to improve your circulation by dilating and relaxing your blood vessels. Alpha blockers, drugs that counteract norepinephrine, may also help. These medications are available by prescription.