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Blue, Discolored Feet: What You Should Know

blue feet

Why Are My Feet Turning Blue?”

If you’ve noticed that your feet are cold to the touch and appear blue, it may be a symptom of an underlying issue. These symptoms may be especially noticeable when you are sedentary; you may notice your feet turning blue when you’re sitting or lying down. If your feet are a bluish-hue, especially pale, or unusually discolored, there is a possibility that they are not getting the oxygenated blood flow they need. 

Discolored feet can be a sign of a vascular condition called peripheral artery disease (PAD). This is a serious condition that can lead to reduced mobility and other consequences if left untreated. Therefore, if you have noticed changes in your legs or feet, it is best to consult with a vascular specialist for further evaluation.


What Can Cause Feet and Toes to Turn Blue?

When you notice feet turning blue, it typically indicates that there is not enough oxygen and blood flowing through your lower extremities. Blood is responsible for carrying oxygen and nutrients to all parts of the body to promote healthy cell as well as tissue growth. A lack of oxygen to an area, such as your feet, causes the tissue to change color, most commonly pale blue or purple.

A person with blue feet can also exhibit other symptoms, including the following:

  • General pain in the feet
  • Tingling, numb sensation
  • Muscle pain in the legs
  • Leg or foot ulcers
  • Bruising
  • Nodules or lesions on the feet

Several conditions can cause blue toe syndrome. These may include the following:

  • Atherosclerosis: When plaque forms along the walls of the arteries and causes them to narrow, resulting in restricted blood flow.
  • Embolism: When pieces of plaque break away from the arterial walls and get stuck elsewhere in the body like the brain or lungs.
  • Medication: Some medications used to treat blood clots can cause blue toes.
  • Renal Failure: Kidneys produce hormones to control blood pressure and when it isn’t controlled, it can lead to blue toes.

With so many potential causes behind discoloration of the feet, it is important to get an accurate diagnosis to ensure you are given the appropriate treatment.

How Does PAD Cause Blue Discolored Feet and Toes?

PAD occurs when plaque builds up along arterial walls, which not only hardens the vessels, but also prevents blood from flowing freely to the limbs. As your arteries carry clean, oxygenated blood to your legs, any restriction can become a serious hindrance. This is because your lower extremities are furthest away from the heart. The lack of oxygen from the restricted blood flow can cause the feet and toes to turn blue. 

While some people with PAD have mild or no symptoms, many people’s mobility and quality of life are directly affected. These symptoms include:

  • Painful cramping in the hip, thigh, or calf muscles after certain activities, such as walking
  • Pain or cramping after climbing stairs
  • Leg heaviness or fatigue
  • Coldness in the lower leg or foot, especially when compared with the other side
  • Sores on the toes, feet, or legs that won’t heal
  • Sudden change in the color of the legs
  • Hair loss or slowed hair growth on the feet and legs
  • Slowed toenail growth 
  • Extreme leg pain
  • Erectile dysfunction

Taking the necessary steps to diagnose and treat PAD is absolutely essential. Because PAD is a progressive disease, the sooner you seek help, the better your chances of maintaining your mobility and quality of life. 

Treatment for PAD

Treatment for PAD doesn’t have to be complicated or require a hospital stay. USA Vascular Centers offers minimally invasive outpatient procedures for PAD, including one called stent angioplasty

During stent angioplasty, your doctor will insert a catheter into the partially or fully blocked artery. Then, the catheter implants a mesh stent that is wrapped around a tiny balloon. The balloon inflates, expanding the stent against the arterial walls and compressing the plaque. The catheter is removed leaving the mesh stent in the artery. This allows for the blood to flow unimpeded to the limbs once again.

Schedule Treatment with USA Vascular Centers

The specialists at USA Vascular Centers aim to provide each patient with an individualized treatment plan for their unique circumstances and condition. If you have noticed your feet are cold and blue and think you may have other symptoms of PAD, call USA Vascular Centers at 888.773.2193 or go online to schedule a consultation with our vascular specialists who can determine if vascular treatment is right for you.



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