By Kyle Alessi
January 09, 2013
Category: Injury Prevention

Cold Feet

Do you suffer from burning sensations in your toes? Do they turn colors in winter? When you touch them, do they feel very cold? With north east winters come snow, high winds and cold temperatures. Protecting your feet from the elements is essential to preventing cold exposure and ultimately frostbite. Some circulatory conditions can be accentuated by cold exposure. These conditions can potentially compromise your feet’s health. Recognizing these conditions and learning how to minimize their effects is critical in preventing long term injury.

Frostbite represents the most severe form of cold injury. It is marked by permanent injury and usually results in amputation of parts of the foot and or permanent nerve damage. Chilblains or  Pernio is a milder form of cold injury where partial recovery is expected. It can lead to some functional loss in the foot. Raynaud’s Syndrome (Phenomenon) is a temporary condition where cold exposure causes the tiny muscles within small arteries to go into spasm. Usually, the tips of the toes burn from the loss of blood flow. The toes feel cold to the touch and often turn colors, either white, bright red, or purple. Preventive measures include avoidance of prolonged cold exposure, foot insulation through lined footwear, thicker socks, rapid warming and foot exercises.  Severe cases, and those aggravated by outdoor work environments, may require prescription topical, or oral medications designed to alleviate the spasms.

Blue toe syndrome, while not created by cold exposure, is aggravated by it. It occurs when a small cholesterol deposit blocks blood flow to a toe. Buerger Disease, also not caused, but aggravated by cold exposure, occurs from the adverse effects of nicotine on small blood vessels. Smoking cessation and avoidance of prolonged cold exposure are essential when suffering from Buerger Disease.

No discussion on circulatory conditions affecting the foot is complete without mentioning Peripheral Artery Disease, or PAD. PAD results from cholesterol deposits physically blocking the larger arteries in the legs. Symptoms include burning sensations in the feet, cramping from walking short distances, pain in the feet and legs while sitting or sleeping. Should you or a family member experience any of the above signs and symptoms, a visit to FootCare Associates is essential. At FootCare Associates, all of our physicians are trained to recognize signs and symptoms of cold injury and arterial disease. FootCare Associates offers in office circulatory testing. Please contact us at call (908) 852-0229. 

By Kyle Alessi