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Serious foot problems

A serious foot problem is when damage to your foot means it needs emergency attention. Having diabetes means that you’re more at risk of serious foot problems. 

It’s more likely to happen if you’ve been told your level of risk for getting foot problems is high. This means that a minor problem with your feet could quickly become something very serious. 

If you’re high risk, and see a change or problem with your feet, you should take the weight off your feet and go to your foot protection service or hospital as soon as you can.  

Signs of a serious foot problem

It’s good to take time out to sit down and have a proper look at your feet every day. If you notice any changes or that you feel unwell you should do something about it straightaway.

Here are the changes that you or a carer should look for:

  • pain (burning)
  • changes in the colour and shape of your feet 
  • blisters and cuts that you can see but don’t feel 
  • loss of feeling in your feet or legs
  • swollen feet
  • cold or hot feet
  • wounds or sores that don’t heal 
  • shiny, smooth skin on your feet
  • foul smell coming from an open wound.

And here are some other signs to keep an eye on, and speak to a healthcare professional about if you’re unsure:

  • tingling sensation or pins and needles
  • less sweaty feet
  • cramp in your calves when resting or walking
  • hair loss on your legs and feet.

What to do if you’re having a serious foot problem

If you see something wrong, it’s really important to:

  • take the weight off your foot
  • contact your GP or foot protection team immediately
  • go to your nearest out-of-hours healthcare service if your GP or foot protection team aren’t available.

It’s really important to try and sort it out before it gets any worse - no matter how small the change. A serious foot problem for some people can be a medical emergency that needs attention.

You may be looked after by many different healthcare professionals, who will tell you what to do next. The important thing to remember is to keep your weight off your foot. 

What the foot specialists will do

They’ll tell you your level of risk.

Together, you’ll agree a personalised care plan. This may involve treatment, advice about the best footwear and how to look after your feet.

You’ll see them regularly and this will be arranged through your local footcare service.

You’ll get these appointments along with your annual diabetes foot check. It’s best to go to all of them. That way, you’ll get the best type of professional footcare.

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