How to Improve Circulation

Q: I'm 41 years old, overweight, and was just diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. My legs and feet hurt due to poor circulation. Will this lead to amputation? Is there anything I can do improve the blood flow to my feet?

A: Rest assured, by getting and keeping your blood glucose under control and practicing preventive measures with regular foot care and annual (or more frequently if needed) leg and foot exams by your health-care provider, amputation can be avoided in many instances.

The pain in your legs and feet may be due in part to poor circulation but may also be due to diabetic neuropathy, nerve damage from higher than normal blood glucose levels over time. It is common for diabetic neuropathy to cause numbness, pain, tingling, and other symptoms in the legs and feet.

Even though you were recently diagnosed with diabetes, it is likely that your blood glucose has been elevated for some time. As your blood glucose levels become closer to normal, the pain may gradually decrease.

Keeping your blood glucose close to normal and caring for your feet can help improve circulation and delay further complications. You should take off your shoes and socks at every visit to remind your doctor to check your feet. Look at your feet daily, using a mirror or magnifying glass to examine the tops, bottoms, and sides. Seek medical attention if you spot a problem.

Madhu Gadia, M.S., R.D.,, is a certified diabetes educator.

Marion J. Franz, M.S., R.D., L.D., CDE, has authored more than 200 articles and books on diabetes, nutrition, and exercise, including core curriculum materials for diabetes educators.