Medical Conditions for Cold Feet
Several medical conditions can cause cold hands and feet. Peripheral neuropathy, which mainly affects people with diabetes, can produce a variety of symptoms including tingling, numbness, weakness, or a burning sensation. Peripheral vascular disease, also known as peripheral arterial disease (PAD), is associated with heart disease; it’s caused by diminished circulation in the lower body due to high blood pressure or plaque accumulation. Also linked to cold feet is tarsal tunnel syndrome, a nerve disorder caused by compression of the tibial nerve as it passes through the ankle. Still another cause of cold feet is Raynaud's Phenomenon, in which cold temperatures or emotional extremes can cause closure of the peripheral blood vessels, blocking blood flow to the extremeties.
Other possible causes of cold feet that occur less frequently include hormonal abnormalities, autoimmune disorders and certain types of drugs. These include beta blockers for high blood pressure, ergotamine for migraine headaches, and cold medications that contain pseudoephedrine.
If you suspect that cold feet are caused by anything other than cold weather, or if you have cold feet for more than a few days, see your doctor. Conditions that may signal a problem include cold feet while in a warm place, after exercising, or in any other situation where there is no apparent reason. Always talk to your doctor if you have soreness, pain, redness, swelling or other indications of problems in any area of your feet that persist for more than a few days.
Reviewed by: Robert P. Thompson, C.Ped, IPFH Scientific Advisory Board
Last updated: June 19, 2015