Have you been told to check your feet but are unsure what to look for?

Because damage to the nerves and blood supply to your feet happens gradually, it’s important to know what to look for when you check your feet and how to spot the signs of any changes.

By checking your feet regularly you can spot the signs of any damage early.

This means that you can get help quickly and can prevent any damage from getting worse. There are a number of different things for you to look out for. These are the main ones.

Changes to your nerves

  • Tingling or pins and needles in your feet or lower legs. This feeling is usually there all the time. You might find that it’s mild and you hardly notice it, or you might find the tingling uncomfortable enough that you have trouble sleeping because of it.
  • You could start to lose the sensation and feeling in your feet and legs. This means that you may not be able to feel pain or hot and cold which also means that you may not notice small injuries like cuts, burns and blisters. As well as not be able to feel something cold if it touches your skin, your feet might feel like they’re cold to you.
  • Although you might not be able to feel some kinds of pain, for example when you stand on something or if your shoes rub, nerve damage can sometimes cause you to feel a constant pain in your feet and legs. This can be severe. Your feet might feel like they are burning and you might also have shooting pains or pins and needles. Sometimes your skin might also feel very sensitive, so that clothes or sheets feel unpleasant if they touch you. The pain is usually continuous, day and night, and can be very distressing. There are treatments that can ease the symptoms.
  • Your feet may sweat less. This can cause dry skin which can easily become cracked and sore.
  • The skin on your feet may look red and feel hot to the touch.
  • Changes to the shape of your feet. Because nerve damage can affect the messages sent to your muscles, which help to control how you move, your feet might change shape. The arch of your foot can drop and your toes can start to curl under. These changes can cause pressure on new areas of your feet, for example the ball of your foot, the tops of your toes and on any bones that start to stick out. This pressure can cause a build up of hard skin
  • Hard skin. Because you have less feeling you may not know when you’re putting extra pressure on your feet or when you have walked too much. Where there is extra or constant pressure on your feet hard skin builds up. This is sometimes called callus.
  • Losing sense of the position of your feet and legs. You may not be able to sense where your feet or legs are in relation to the rest of you or what they are doing. When this sense starts to fail you may find that you start to walk in a different way or have trouble balancing especially in the dark.

 Changes to your blood supply

  • Shiny smooth skin and losing hair on your feet and legs.
  • Thickened toenails
  • Cold, pale feet
  • Any change in the colour of the skin on your feet, for example, red, purple, blue or paler skin
  • Wounds or sores that take a long time to heal
  • Cramp or tightness in your calves when you walk which goes when you rest. You may also have pain in your thighs or buttocks. This kind of pain is called intermittent claudication
  • Pain in your feet when you put them up – for example, when you go to bed at night. You may have a burning type of pain in the arch or the ball of your foot or in your toes which gets better when you lower your feet down – for example when you dangle your feet out of bed.

For more information about looking after your feet please click  ♦ here ♦

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