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Poor circulation in the hands: Symptoms and common causes

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Poor blood circulation in your hands may cause tingling, numbness, or pain. Causes may include Raynaud’s disease, anemia, and exposure to cold temperatures. In some cases, it’s important to seek immediate medical assistance.
Medically reviewed by Debra Sullivan, Ph.D., MSN, R.N., CNE, COI
Written by Uxshely Carcamo
Updated on

Poor circulation means you aren’t receiving the expected blood flow to an area or multiple areas of your body. If this happens, oxygen and nutrient supply may decrease and you may or may not notice symptoms.

Poor circulation in your hands may be a temporary occurrence that might not indicate a medical emergency. However, persistent symptoms may require medical attention and assistance.

This article discusses the symptoms and causes of poor circulation in the hands, as well as common medical treatments that can help manage it. 

Symptoms of poor circulation in the hands

Hands against a curtain with rainbow lights projected onto them
Photography by Carolyn Lagattuta/Stocksy United

If you have poor circulation in your hands, you may notice some of these symptoms: 

  • tingling, numbness, or pins and needles
  • pain
  • swelling
  • throbbing 
  • cold hands or fingers
  • stiffness or difficulty moving your fingers 
  • loss of strength 
  • bluish or pale discoloration on your fingertips

Your symptoms may depend on the underlying cause, and they may be temporary or permanent, or they may come and go (recurrent).

Persistent or recurrent symptoms may suggest a need to seek medical assistance.

Some of the symptoms of poor circulation in your hands may be similar to nerve-related challenges, such as carpal tunnel syndrome or peripheral neuropathy. Only a medical professional may be able to provide an accurate diagnosis.

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Causes of poor circulation in the hands 

Reduced blood flow to the hands may be due to certain environmental factors or underlying health conditions. Some of the most common causes of poor blood circulation in your hands include:

Raynaud’s disease

Raynaud’s disease is a condition that directly affects blood circulation. It causes the blood vessels in your fingers and toes to narrow. When the blood vessels narrow, restricted blood flow can lead to numbness and tingling.  

Stress or cold temperatures can sometimes trigger the symptoms of Raynaud’s disease.

Other symptoms

Other symptoms of Raynaud’s disease may include

  • pain in your hands or feet 
  • trouble moving the affected areas
  • a sensation of pins and needles in your hands or feet
  • a change in texture or color of your skin in your fingertips or toes

Management strategies

Raynaud’s disease is manageable, and lifestyle changes may help, such as: 

  • keeping your hands, feet, and entire body warm
  • stopping tobacco use (if any) 
  • discussing medication side effects with your healthcare professional 
  • managing stress


About 2.8 million people in the United States live with anemia. Anemia happens when your body doesn’t make enough red blood cells or makes red blood cells that don’t function properly. This reduces oxygen supply to the different organs in your body, leading to the above-mentioned symptoms of poor circulation in the hands and other areas.

Other symptoms

Other symptoms of anemia may include: 

  • shortness of breath
  • fatigue
  • sleepiness
  • dizziness or lightheadedness
  • headaches
  • irregular heartbeat 

Management strategies

The anemia treatment your healthcare team recommends will depend on the type of anemia you have. They may suggest:

  • iron or ferritin supplements
  • vitamins to increase iron absorption
  • medications that help make more red blood cells

Eating a nutrient-dense diet may also help prevent anemia symptoms. 


Atherosclerosis is a condition that causes plaque buildup in your arteries. This plaque consists of fats, including cholesterol, that blocks blood flow to and from the heart.

It’s possible that someone might not notice atherosclerosis symptoms until they experience a medical emergency, such as a stroke or heart attack.

An early symptom of atherosclerosis may be poor circulation in your hands and feet. 

Other symptoms

Other symptoms of atherosclerosis may include: 

  • shortness of breath
  • chest pain 
  • pain in your legs or arms, especially when you exercise 
  • unusual fatigue or weakness 
  • confusion 
  • wounds that are slow to heal
  • irregular heartbeat
  • erectile dysfunction

Management strategies

Your healthcare professional may suggest different treatments for atherosclerosis, including lifestyle changes or medications that can lower your cholesterol, blood pressure, or chance of blood clots. 

Other causes of poor circulation in the hands 

Other factors may also cause poor blood circulation in the hands, such as: 

  • Smoking: If you smoke, it may increase your chance of forming blood clots and developing peripheral arterial disease, both of which can affect circulation to the hands.
  • Exposure to cold temperatures: This may cause blood vessels in the hands to narrow and temporarily affect circulation in your hands.
  • Stress response: Although rare, the stress response may cause changes in the blood vessels that affect blood flow to the hands.
  • Tight clothing or jewelry: Such items may block blood flow to the hands.

If you experience recurrent poor blood circulation in your hands, it’s highly advisable that you discuss your symptoms with a medical professional. They will help you find possible causes and build a plan to manage your symptoms. 

How is poor circulation treated?

The treatment of poor circulation in the hands will depend on the underlying cause. Only a healthcare professional can diagnose and treat the cause of persistent poor circulation in your hands.

You can complement these efforts by taking steps to manage your heart health, such as:

  • eating a nutrient-dense diet that includes fresh fruits and vegetables 
  • moving your body regularly
  • getting at least 8 hours of sleep every day
  • quitting smoking (if you smoke)
  • managing stress effectively


Poor circulation in your hands means there’s a temporary or recurrent reduced blood flow to the vessels in this area.

Common causes of poor circulation in the hands may include anemia, Raynaud’s disease, heart conditions, or exposure to cold temperatures.  

Cold hands, numbness, tingling, or pain in your hands and fingers may be symptoms of poor circulation. However, these symptoms may also result from other health conditions.

If the symptoms are recurrent or interfere with your daily life, it’s important to talk with a healthcare professional.

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