We all feel cold during the winters.One of the most exposed and vulnerable parts of our body is our feet. There are several reasons why our feet become and remain cold in winters. These include reasons related to extrinsic causes (surrounding environment), intrinsic causes (due to normal human physiology) and/or specific diseases.
Dr Dhananjay Gupta, Director, Orthopaedic Surgery, Fortis Flt Lt Rajan Dhall Hospital, Vasant Kunj, New Delhi explains what the ailment is all about and hot to beat it.
Extrinsic causes is when normal temperature is reduced it causes the constriction of the peripheral vasculature to save body heat loss by restricting circulation.
High stress or anxiety, causes release of adrenaline into circulation which in turn leads to peripheral blood vessel constriction, this is an intrinsic cause.
Circulation issues are another reason. There is decreased circulation to distal parts of the body and in turn leads to cold hands and feet. This can be due to a sedentary lifestyle, various heart conditions which lead to decreased cardiac output, tobacco smoking, atherosclerosis.
Anaemia also leads to decreased oxygen supply to body parts resulting in decreased metabolic activity at cellular level.
Raynaud’s disease is a condition in which spasm of arterioles occurs in cold temperature.
Nerve disorders: Cause for nerve damage are either external (injury, trauma, burns, frostbite) or internal (liver or kidney diseases, nutrient deficiency, infection). These patients also have additional symptoms of nerve damage.
Diabetes mellitus: It causes narrowing of blood vessels on the other it is also responsible for nerve damage.
Hypothyroidism: Reduced thyroid hormone level leads to reduced metabolic activity and in turn to cold hands and feet.
SYMPTOMS- Either cold feet can occur in isolation or in combination with other symptoms which include numbness, paraesthesia, sores on weight bearing areas, skin changes (rashes, scales, thick skin), fatigue, weight loss or gain, fever, joint pain
Management: If one has cold feet with no underlying condition, then they just must cover up and bundle themselves up in better woollen clothing. However, if on is predisposed to some condition, management is directed towards the cause per se. The approach should be to identify the factors responsible and then to manage it accordingly.
Movement: it is one of the easiest ways to warm up. It acts by increasing circulation and in turn increases the foot and hand temperature. Jumping, running, brisk walking or simply moving around is more than enough.
Thick socks and slippers: warm thick and well insulated socks and shoes.
Warm water foot baths is the easiest and most effective way; instant effect within 10-15 mins.
Heating pads, hot water bottles or room heaters for bedtime.
Heating insoles are ideal for people who have outdoor jobs. They are battery operated and chargeable.
Prevent crossing your legs for long while sitting.
Exercise on regular basis enhances blood flow and is an effective way to prevent cold hand and feet.
Traditional home remedies like rubbing of hands and feet with onion or bathing in potato water is an effective way to improve circulation.
Problem in preventing or treating the cold feet in winters lies in the negligence to identify the exact cause that is responsible, by the patient himself or by the treating doctor.