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Improve Lower Limb Blood Circulation

What should you do if you notice your feet are always tired or in pain after walking just a short distance? And what if, your feet at times feels numb and tingly when resting? Poor circulation can be an indicator of many underlying chronic illnesses. At its worst, can lead to infection and amputation. So let’s take a look at how you can prevent this from happening and how you can effectively manage the problem.


Poor Circulation in the Lower Limbs:

Poor circulation to the lower leg and feet indicates the arteries or veins (or both) are not able to push blood effectively to and from the heart. When the heart is unable to provide the legs and feet with nutrient rich oxygenated blood, the tissues in the leg become “starved” which begins a cascade of ongoing serious issues as will be addressed below. When our veins aren’t able to effectively deliver blood back up to the heart and lungs, then this too causes an array of unpleasant symptoms throughout the entire body.

Always listen to your body, more often than not, impaired blood circulation is a symptom of an underlying or preexisting medical condition. So if you’ve been diagnosed with high blood pressure for example, and you’ve been feeling unwell because your blood pressure has been on the higher side recently, it would be best to speak with your doctor to ensure the treatment plan you’re on is managing this condition effectively.

The consequences of poor circulation in legs:

  • Nerve Damage
  • Tissue Damage
  • Increased risk of blood clot formation, infected skin ulcers and stroke


What are the signs of poor blood circulation in the feet?

This depends on whether your veins or arteries are affected- below are the major warning signs you need to be on the lookout for.

Signs that your veins are unable to move blood back up to the heart include:

  • The pooling of blood in the lower leg and foot will occur making the foot will appear larger than normal, this is referred to as edema
  • Warm legs
  • Irregularly shaped sores
  • Dull pain
  • Yellow and or brown ankles


Signs that your arteries are unable to provide oxygen rich blood to your legs and feet:

  • Little to no pulse felt
  • No hair growth on feet where there once used to be
  • Shiny skin
  • Round red and smooth sores
  • Pale toes and feet; toes can sometimes appear black indicating late stage tissue damage
  • Sharp pain in calf muscles during a short duration of exercise or when elevated

If you are experiencing a few of the above symptoms, then you must speak with your doctor or podiatrist asap.



Am I at risk? What are the leading causes of decreased circulation?

You are at risk of developing poor circulation in the lower legs and feet if you are affected by any of the following:

  • Are diagnosed with diabetes
  • Your blood pressure is elevated (above 140/90)
  • Your cholesterol is high or have a history of hyperlipidaemia or a condition similar
  • You carry excess fat and are classified as being within the obese weight range
  • You smoke cigarettes regularly


A simple test to check your circulation:

If you want to test the efficiency of your foot circulation yourself you can employ the SVPF (Subpapillary Venous Plexus Filling time), this simple test will indicate if the blood supplied to your foot is abnormal. Follow the method below:

  1. Try to push the blood out of your toe, preferably the big toe, as shown below.

2. Release pressure and count how many seconds it takes for the toe to return to normal colour.

The time it takes for your toe to fill up with blood again should be within 3-5 seconds.

Any sooner and it may imply your veins are not moving blood back to the heart efficiently, any more than 5 seconds and the arteries in your feet are likely not supplying your feet with adequate blood supply.



What do I do if I think my circulation is poor?

Discussing this issue sooner rather than later will help to prevent the likelihood of further damage outlined near the start of the post. Your podiatrist or doctor will know the next steps to take and what medicine needs to be prescribed if need be. As well as this, your podiatrist will shed light on the important factors you need to adjust in your lifestyle to help your legs and feet regain normal circulation.

There are natural methods you can employ whilst under the guidance of your podiatrist and/or doctor. Below are just a few strategies you can try out while receiving treatment:

  • Stay Hydrated
  • Exercise the muscles of the legs and feet
  • Weight control
  • Blood pressure control
  • Stretching twice a day
  • A massage
  • Yoga

For further information or if you are interested in booking a consult to see Dr. Yejeong Kim, please call us on 07 3741 2825 to speak with one of our friendly team members or send an email to


by Nadia Anand for Foot & Ankle Experts Health Clinic