Poor circulation is a condition that often develops from underlying health issues such as diabetes, obesity, peripheral artery disease, blood clots, or heart conditions. The blood flow becomes limited which affects the amount of nutrients, blood, and oxygen moving throughout the body, to the lower extremities. If you have reduced circulation, you may experience numbness, tingling, pain, or muscle cramps in the legs and feet. A podiatrist can help identify and manage circulation issues that affect the feet.
Signs of poor circulation in the feet
There are a number of foot concerns that may indicate poor circulation. Here are a few to look out for:
- Cold feet
- Chronic nail fungal infections – fungal infections of the skin and nails that do not respond to treatment can indicate poor circulation. This is because there is a lack of oxygen and nutrients that are required to keep your skin and nails healthy.
- White nail beds (poor capillary refill time) – in feet with good circulation the nail bed is pink. If the nail bed is pushed down it will turn white and should quickly return to pink. If this change is delayed, it may mean your circulation is reduced.
- Cramps – Diminished circulation can cause cramping in the feet and calves with exercise. If you suffer from regular cramps when walking you may have reduced circulation.
How to improve blood flow to the feet
The following strategies can be a good start to improving the blood flow to the feet:
- Daily exercise – This is important to encourage oxygen flow around the body. If you have limited mobility, it is still important to participate in low impact activity as any exercise is better than none.
- Having a healthy diet
- Reducing alcohol consumption and quitting smoking
- Controlling blood glucose levels – For people with diabetes, having constantly high or severe fluctuations is blood sugar levels can bring on associated circulatory and neurological changes
- Podiatric assessment – A podiatry assessment of your vascular status can help to maintain your foot health.
What can a podiatrist do to help you manage poor circulation to your feet?
If you think you suffer from poor circulation in the feet it is important to see one of our Melbourne podiatrists for diagnosis and foot care. A podiatrist can:
- Perform a doppler ultrasound of the arterial flow to your lower limbs
- Perform a full vascular assessment including an ABI or toe pressure
- Manage your toenails and calluses to prevent wounds/cuts from developing that may not heal
- Ensure that your footwear is the correct fit – if your shoes are too tight it can reduce circulation to the feet
- Provide advice on how to keep feet insulated, especially during winter to prevent chilblains
- Improve circulation through use of a paraffin wax bath