Medical Author: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
Cold sensations to the feet can come from poor circulation, disorders of the nervous system, cold exposure injuries such as frostbite, and decreased metabolism from a low thyroid condition (hypothyroidism or underactive thyroid). Depending upon the cause of the symptoms, coldness in the feet can be accompanied by other symptoms, including pain, numbness, changes in skin color, or a pins and needles tingling sensation. Other diseases that can cause cold feet symptoms include diabetes, arteriosclerosis, peripheral vascular disease, Raynaud's phenomenon, and neuropathy of any cause.
In people with diabetes mellitus, chronic abnormally elevated blood and urine sugar, causes narrowing of arteries and capillaries that impair blood supply to tissues leading to cold feet symptoms. Arteriosclerosis and peripheral vascular disease result from chronic elevation of blood cholesterol levels that leads to blood vessel narrowing. Raynaud's phenomenon features narrowing of tiny blood vessels as a reaction to nerve sensitivity to cold exposure, which causes cold feet symptoms. Frostbite causes permanent damage to blood vessels that are injured from freezing of tissues.
Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.
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