Health Care Provider

Ask for a foot exam during your regular check up.

Joy Pape By Joy Pape, RN, BSN, CDE, WOCN, CFCN

It's time for your check up. Your health care provider (HCP) will listen to your heart and lungs, and take your blood pressure. He or she will either take your blood tests or, if you have already had them taken, will review your lab results with you, and will also review your medications and prescribe new medications if you should need them.

Does your health care provider look at your feet? It's important! As you know, having diabetes increases the risk for foot problems, all the way up to amputations. The good news is these problems don't have to happen to you! Work with your HCP to help keep your feet healthy.

Be proactive!

Don't wait for your health care provider to ask about your feet. Be prepared. When you take your clothes off for your exam, take off your shoes and socks too. During your exam, ask your HCP to examine your feet.

What your HCP is looking at and looking for:

Your health care provider will look at the tops, bottoms (soles), sides, heel, toes, and toenails for:

  • Temperature. Your feet should be about the same temperature as the rest of your body. Cold feet could mean poor circulation.
  • Pulses. You have pulses in your feet. Your HCP should be able to feel them pulsate. If not, it may mean poor circulation.
  • Color. If your feet are red or blue in color, it could be due to poor circulation. Sometimes your feet will be blue when hanging down, and pink up when you lift them. This can be a sign of poor circulation. Redness in certain areas can be related to shoes that are too tight, or too loose and rubbing a blister.
  • Open areas. You may have sores on your feet and not know it. If you have neuropathy, you may not be able to feel pain that alerts you to problems.
  • Hair. If you have hair on your toes, feet, and lower legs, it's a sign of good circulation. If you don't, it could mean poor circulation.
  • Toenails. Whitened or yellowed thick toenails can be related to prior damage, poor circulation, or infection. Very short nails can be from cutting them too short. Long toenails are from not cutting them short enough.
  • Feeling. Your health care provider should perform a simple test with a monofilament (like a short piece of fishing line), with your eyes closed. You will be asked if you can feel it touching you. If you can't feel the monofilament, you may have some neuropathy.
  • Shape. If you have neuropathy, you have an increased chance for painless broken bones, which can change the shape of your foot, called Charcot foot.

Another test provided by some HCPs — the ABI

There is also a simple test for circulation called the Ankle Brachial Index (ABI). Your health care provider takes your blood pressure at your ankle and in your arm when you are at rest. Your blood pressure at your ankle is divided by the blood pressure in your arm. The blood pressure at your ankle should be equal to or greater than the pressure in your arm.

By working with your health care provider for your foot exam, managing your blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol, and following the self-care diabetes foot care at home, you can keep your feet healthy for life.


Read Joy's bio here.

Read more of Joy Pape's columns.

NOTE: The information is not intended to be a replacement or substitute for consultation with a qualified medical professional or for professional medical advice related to diabetes or another medical condition. Please contact your physician or medical professional with any questions and concerns about your medical condition.

Last Modified Date: July 08, 2013

All content on is created and reviewed in compliance with our editorial policy.

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by Brenda Bell
Many people say that depression is a side effect or complication of diabetes. Without discounting the association of the psychological condition with the physical one, I'm not convinced that our high and/or unstable glucose levels are directly responsible for that change in our mental state. My belief is that the unrelenting need for self-care, for following the sort of care schedules that can drive licensed, professional caregivers crazy, is what overwhelms us...
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