Pain in foot cold
by Nathan Wei, MD, FACP, FACR
Nathan Wei is a nationally known board-certified rheumatologist and author of the Second Opinion Arthritis Treatment Kit. It's available exclusively at this website... not available in stores.
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Foot pain has many causes.
The section on pain syndromes has a good discussion.
When the foot is cold as well as painful, that narrows the possibilities.
The most likely problem is a circulatory one. There is something blocking normal blood flow to the foot. When a larger artery is involved, the possibilities include a clot or inflammation. Clots in arteries generally occur in older people although younger people who have clotting abnormalities in their blood may also be affected.
Blood vessels can become inflamed and this may lead to a cold painful foot. Vasculitis is a condition where the walls of blood vessels become inflamed. This leads to narrowing of the blood vessel and weakening of the vessel wall. The end result is that the blood vessel becomes clogged or ruptures. An example of a type of vasculitis that can do this is a condition called Takayasu’s disease. This form of vasculitis attacks young people and may be devastating.
Sometimes the foot may feel cold but not actually be cold to touch. This indicates that some of the small nerves in the foot may be damaged.
Another condition that can cause pain and coldness in the foot is reflex sympathetic dystrophy. This is a peculiar condition where the sympathetic nerves to the foot are damaged and blood flow as well as normal sensation to the foot are altered. The usual cause is trauma.
Raynaud’s syndrome is a condition where the toes or fingers actually blanch- turn white- with exposure to cold. This sometimes is associated with an underlying autoimmune disease. Raynaud’s syndrome can be painful.
And sometimes, the problem is relatively mundane. As people get older, they have more problems with cold feet especially at night. The solution? Wear socks.
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