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Causes of Cold Fingers

About Cold Fingers:

Experiencing cold fingers on odd occasions is something which happens to everyone once in a while. This is especially true during a chilly wet morning or during the winter months. However, if an individual starts having Cold Fingers even on a warm day then it may be a sign or an underlying medical condition which requires medical attention. One of the common reasons for experiencing Cold Fingers is the fact that the body circulates more blood to some other more important parts of the body first. This may be due to several reasons.[2]

In many cases Cold Fingers are associated with hand and wrist pain, swelling and tingling in the fingers, or the fingers becoming thick. In some cases there is also discoloration of the fingers. Sometimes, low thyroid levels have also been associated with Cold Fingers. This article explains some of the potential causes as to why an individual constantly feels Cold Fingers.[1]

Causes of Cold Fingers

Causes of Cold Fingers

The primary reasons as to why an individual experiences Cold Fingers include:

Certain Medications: There are certain classes of medications which have been known to cause Cold Fingers. These medications normally affect the blood circulation like amphetamines. Prescription or over the counter decongestants used for stuffy nose also have Cold Fingers as a side effect profile.[2]

Certain medications exclusively used as a treatment for certain forms of cancer are known to cause Cold Fingers. This is because these drugs cause spasms in the blood vessels of the fingers of the hands. Due to spasticity, there is an increase in the amount of blood flowing through the fingers which makes them cold.[2]

If an individual believes that his or her Cold Fingers started after starting some medications then it is better to consult with the physician to identify the cause and change the medications or look for an alternative treatment strategy.[2]

Hypothyroidism: A normal functioning thyroid gland is imperative for metabolic processes to occur in the body. The functioning of various organs of the body depends on whether the thyroid is working normally or not. If the thyroid gland does not function normally and is underactive it often at times results in Cold Fingers. This is because there is a decrease in the blood flow to the fingers due to the underactive thyroid or hypothyroidism causing Cold Fingers.[2]

An individual with hypothyroidism will need consultation with a physician to start treatment for it. The individual will be put on thyroid supplement to replenish the low thyroid hormones. The dosage of the medication will depend on how low the levels of the thyroid hormones are.[2]

Raynaud’s Disease: This is a medical condition in which there is a problem with blood circulation normally in the fingers and toes but sometimes the ears and nose also get affected. This is a condition in which even with slightest palpation there is a decrease of blood flow to these areas causing the area to become cold.[2]

Exposure to stress or cold weather also reduces the blood circulation to the fingers. This reduced blood flow to the fingers is what causes Cold Fingers. The severity of the symptoms range from mild to severe meaning that the severe the symptoms the colder will be the fingers.[2]

It is important for people with Raynaud’s syndrome to avoid caffeine and nicotine as they tend to worsen the symptoms. They are also advised to keep their fingers warm especially in cold weather conditions to regulate the temperatures.[2]

Blood Clot: In some rare cases, blood clots have also been observed to cause Cold Fingers. This may happen when there is a blood clot somewhere else in the body that traverses to the artery in the hand or the arm. As a result of the clot, the fingers and the hand may feel cold with associated pain. Blood clot is an emergent medical condition and requires immediate treatment in the emergency room.[2]

Low Vitamin B-12: This is a crucial vitamin which functions by increasing the red blood cell count in the body. A deficiency of vitamin B12 means low production of red blood cells which in turn causes decreased blood flow, especially to the fingers and hands causing Cold Fingers. Vitamin B-12 is found in abundance in eggs, meat, and dairy.[2]

However, people who are vegetarians are more prone to vitamin B-12 deficiency. People who have problems with absorption of vitamins or have undergone a major surgical procedure also tend to have low vitamin B-12. An individual with vitamin B-12 deficiency will have numbness and tingling in the extremities along with Cold Fingers.[2]

On rare occasions, there may also be swelling of the tongue, memory loss, and cognitive impairment as a result of B-12 deficiency. If this is the case, then the individual should seek immediate consultation with their physician for immediate treatment with supplementation. Dietary modifications may also be suggested to replenish vitamin B-12 and treat the condition.[2]

Anemia: This is a common blood disorder in which the affected individual does not have enough red blood cells in the body that is required for normal functioning. One of the primary symptoms of anemia is Cold Fingers. There may also be associated weakness, lethargy, fatigue, dizziness, and paleness of the skin.[2]

Iron deficiency anemia is the most common type of anemia. This is caused when the body in unable to absorb iron resulting in reduced production of red blood cells. Iron supplements are the primary mode of treatment for this condition.[2]

Peripheral Artery Disease: This is a cardiovascular condition which is seen mostly in the elderly population. This condition occurs when there is gradual buildup of plaques in the arteries of the arms and legs. This results in the interrupted blood flow in the hands and feet. This is seen more commonly in the lower extremities but sometimes even the upper extremities can get affected causing Cold Fingers.[2]

Some of the other symptoms associated with peripheral artery disease include arm cramping and pain, numbness of the hands and fingers, bluish discoloration of the fingers. There may also be delayed wound healing. Peripheral artery disease especially in the arms can be treated at home but at times requires medical management. Abstaining from smoking, exercising diligently, and close monitoring of the condition is what is needed in people with peripheral vascular disease.[2]

Stress: Cold Fingers is a common symptom of stress and anxiety. This is because when an individual is under stress or has a bout of anxiety then the body releases excess of ephedrine which results in reduced blood flow to the fingers and hands thereby causing Cold Fingers.[2]

Counseling sessions, yoga, exercise, and other techniques to manage stress and anxiety are the best ways to deal with the condition. Some people may also require medications for treating anxiety disorder.[2]

Conclusion:

Having Cold Fingers once in a while is not a cause for concern and is usually a sign of cold. However, if an individual has Cold Fingers even when the temperatures outside are warm, then it indicates an underlying medical condition which may require medical attention. Majority of the conditions which causes Cold Fingers are completely treatable and all one needs to do is get a thorough checkup to identify the cause and start treatment for the condition. [2]

References:

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:October 15, 2022

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