Circulatory Problems

Circulatory Problems

Circulatory problems are another common cause of chronic pain. Diabetes, tobacco use, and autoimmune diseases such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis can all cause poor circulation, which can in turn cause chronic pain.

Poor circulation can also be caused by fatty deposits, called plaques, partially blocking arteries. Arteries bring oxygen-rich blood from the heart to the rest of the body. If an artery is partially blocked, part of your body will not get oxygen and vital nourishment. It will be damaged, and that damage will cause pain.

Treatment for pain caused by circulatory problems depends on the precise cause of the circulatory problems. If an artery blockage is the problem, doctors will often try surgery to bypass the clogged arteries. If this isn't possible, opioids and blood thinners might both be used to control the pain.

However, there is another cause for poor circulation and resulting pain: reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD). This is a vicious cycle of pain leading to poor circulation leading to more pain. As your nerves transmit the pain signals, blood vessels may get narrower. If the blood vessel is narrower, your body won’t get enough oxygen, which causes more pain. Doctors can often treat RSD using a surgical sympathectomy, which is an operation that will calm the nerve impulses down. Opioids and non-opioid medications are often both used with or without the surgery to further control the pain.

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