Signs & Symptoms of Poor Circulation in Arms

Poor circulation most often occurs in the legs and feet but can also affect the arms and hands. Poor circulation can be caused by numerous illnesses, including heart disease, Raynaud’s disease, blood clots and diabetes. It can also be caused from personal choices like drinking excessive alcohol, smoking or consuming too much caffeine. While they might not be imminent, symptoms of poor circulation can signify possibly serious health problems that need to be addressed by a physician.

Doctor examining patients circulation in arms. (Image: edwardolive/iStock/Getty Images)


Numbness is simply a body part losing feeling. When there is poor circulation in the arms, there can be numbness in the hands and forearms because blood isn't reaching the extremities. The hands will feel cold, and it can feel as if you're touching someone else's hand when you're touching your own. The feeling will come and go, and is usually followed and preceded by tingling.


Tingling is the sensation of pins and needles in the arms and hands or a feeling there's something moving beneath the skin. This is again caused by blood not reaching the areas it should. The tingling can occur at different times, but most often when you're being active, such as during exercise, walking or running.

Burning Sensations

At times, it can feel like the hands or the arms are on fire. Other times, it can feel like they're only slightly warmer than other areas of the body. This symptom alone can be caused by many other illnesses, but when it is experienced with the others, poor circulation is the likely cause.

Poor Healing

When the body is wounded, white blood cells come to the rescue by bringing in platelets to repair the wound. They stick together and form a barrier to stop the bleeding. Next the area becomes red and inflamed, which is when the body naturally kills off any bacteria or germs that may have entered the wound. As new tissue starts to build, blood is sometimes unable to move as freely as possible, and wounds don't heal as quickly, another sign of poor circulation.


Cyanosis is the medical term for bluish discoloration of the skin caused by a lack of oxygen in the blood. Oxygen rich cells carry a red pigment called hemoglobin that causes blood to be red. When this pigment is not present, blood cells begin to turn blue, and this can be seen through the skin. Healthline says cyanosis is a common symptom of poor blood circulation in the arms.

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