Circulatory disorders of the toes

Definition - What is Toe Circulation Disorder?

A circulatory disorder in the toes basically means that either not enough blood reaches the toes or that the blood cannot be removed from there. The cause of this can be found both in the vessels of the legs and on the toes themselves. Such a circulatory disorder manifests itself in problems that arise due to the lack of nutrients.

Would you first like to receive general information on the subject of "circulatory disorders"? You can find them at: Circulatory disorders

These symptoms tell me that there is a circulatory disorder in the toes

The circulatory disorder in the toes is mainly noticeable by cold and white or blue toes. Especially when it's cold outside, the body is unable to deliver enough oxygen and heat to the toes.

In addition, circulatory disorders mean that small wounds do not heal well. Therefore, when there are circulatory disorders in the toes, there are open spots that are also easily inflamed.

Are you afraid of having a circulatory problem, but you are not sure about it? You can recognize the circulatory disorder by these symptoms: Symptoms of a circulatory disorder

Symptoms of circulatory problems in the toes: Toes are blue / white

Blue or white toes are due to a lack of blood and oxygen.

Oxygenated blood is bright red and ensures that toes with good circulation are usually pink. If only a little blood reaches the toes, the body parts in front of them have usually already withdrawn a lot of oxygen from the blood. It's now noticeably darker and gives the toes their blue color. If little or no blood arrives in the toes, they will turn white.

But what causes anemia? For this, read the following article: Causes of anemia

Toes are numb / tingling with a circulatory disorder

Numbness and tingling of the toes are symptoms that only appear after the circulation problems in the toes have been around for a while.

The nerve endings, among other things, are damaged by the lack of oxygen and nutrients. As a result, they can no longer relay information to the brain, which is why the toes feel numb. The nerves may also send partial or incorrect information to the brain because they are no longer fully functional. This means that the brain perceives light touches as tingling, for example.

Can a tingling sensation indicate a circulatory disorder? Find out more about this here.

Pain from circulatory disorders of the toes

Pain in the toes in circulatory disorders is partly due to damaged nerve endings. These perish due to the poor supply of nutrients and convey misinformation to the brain. So touch can be perceived as painful.

However, a circulatory disorder in the toes also makes small wounds easier to develop. They also heal poorly and become infected quickly. Or the tissue of the toes is destroyed and the toes die. These processes can lead to pain if the nerves are not yet completely damaged.

Further important information relevant to this topic can be found at:

  • Toe pain - what could be the cause?
  • How does nerve damage occur?

Course of the disease with circulatory disorders of the toes

If it is noticeable that the blood supply to the toes is disturbed, other vessels are usually also affected by the disease. Therefore, a short time later, similar symptoms appear in other parts of the body. Initially probably on the lower leg, later on the entire leg or on the arms.

In addition, the heart vessels and those of other organs are also affected by the disease, so that there are usually disorders and malfunctions there as well.

Is it possible that you also have circulatory problems in other parts of your body? Find out from the following articles:

  • Circulatory disorder in the legs
  • Circulatory disorder in the feet
  • Circulatory disorder in the arm

Causes of circulatory disorder on the toes

The most common cause of circulatory disorders in the toes is calcification of the supplying vessels, i.e. the arteries. This narrows the vessels and prevents enough blood to be pumped to the toes.

However, the arteries can also be attacked by diseases such as diabetes, which also causes circulatory disorders.

A venous circulatory disorder is due to the draining vessels. Often the venous valves are broken, so that the blood backs up in the toes.

How can you prevent the calcification of vessels? The following article could be of interest to you: How can you prevent arteriosclerosis?

Does diabetes lead to circulatory disorders in the toes?

Diabetes mellitus (blood sugar disease) is a metabolic disease. The body cannot process the sugar that is absorbed into the blood from food. Instead, it collects in the vessels and destroys the vessel walls. Often the smallest vessels are affected first. Therefore one speaks of a microangiopathy. Due to the destruction of the small vessels, the toes can no longer be supplied with sufficient blood.

What are the other consequences of diabetes? If you have diabetes, make sure that it does not lead to serious consequences. You can find these consequences in the following articles:

  • Consequences of diabetes
  • Secondary diseases in diabetes mellitus

PAD as the cause of circulatory disorders in the toes

PAD (peripheral arterial occlusive disease) is a vascular disease in which the arteries in the legs in particular become blocked. Often arteriosclerosis is the cause, calcium deposits appear, which initially constrict the vessels and later completely close them.

Risk factors for this are an unhealthy lifestyle, alcohol, smoking, high blood pressure, poor blood lipid values, etc.

However, PAD can also be triggered by small blood clots that clog the blood vessels.

Find out the most important information about "arteriosclerosis" and "PAD" at:

  • What is arteriosclerosis?
  • What are the causes of peripheral arterial disease?

Smoking as a cause of circulatory disorders in the toes

Smoking is a risk factor for many diseases that develop particularly in the lungs and the cardiovascular system.

Smoking damages the blood vessels in different ways: Through nicotine consumption, stress hormones are released, which increases blood pressure. The blood becomes thicker as the body produces more blood cells in response to the lack of oxygen. In addition, substances that attack the vessel walls directly enter the bloodstream. The damage to the vessels leads to a circulatory disorder, including in the toes.

For the most important information on this topic, also read: Circulatory disorders caused by smoking

Treatment of circulatory disorders in the toes

The therapy for circulatory disorders in the toes depends on the underlying disease and its causes.

Atherosclerosis is treated with good blood pressure and lipid levels. A change in lifestyle to a lot of exercise and a balanced diet are also part of the therapy. Risk factors such as smoking and alcohol consumption should also be avoided.

If calcifications have nevertheless formed, the resulting constrictions can be widened again by the vascular surgeon. This is done using a catheter, i.e. a wire that is pushed into the vessel. This enables the calcifications to be removed. A small wire mesh (stent) is then placed in the vessel so that it does not close again.

Open surgical procedures can also be used. If there is a long occlusion, it must be supplied with a bypass so that blood can get back into the toes.

If small blood clots cause circulatory disorders in the toes, attempts are made to dissolve them with blood thinners. They can also be retrieved with a catheter.

Are you starting the therapy for circulatory disorders soon and would you like to find out more about it? For this we recommend our articles:

  • Treatment of circulatory disorders
  • Which doctor treats a circulatory disorder?

Prognosis of circulatory disorders of the toes

If the factors causing the circulatory disorder in the toes are managed, the prognosis for the disease is good. The vascular system can recover with good drug control and lifestyle changes.

However, if the risk factors persist, the prognosis must be poor. Not only the vessels of the toes are attacked, but the entire cardiovascular system. Quite a few people die from this disease after decades.


The diagnosis of a circulatory disorder in the toes is initially based only on a guess based on the symptoms (blue / white and cold toes).

During the physical examination, the pulse is felt on the foot. This is only weak or nonexistent in the case of circulatory disorders. In addition, the blood flow rate can be assessed using an ultrasound of the vessels. A CT angiography can be performed to accurately assess constrictions in the vessels.

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