Circulation in Your Feet

Circulatory health to your feet is not something we ever take lightly—nor should any podiatrist. We use a variety of ways to ensure that you have healthy circulation – such as ABI Testing. 

It is already a challenge for even perfectly healthy feet to receive optimal blood flow, simply due to gravity and how far they are from the heart. And the more that problems develop to impede circulation, the greater and more serious effects it can have to our feet over time.

Conditions such as diabetes and peripheral artery disease (PAD) can gradually wreak havoc on blood flow to lower limbs, resulting in reduced healing, nerve damage, and higher rates of infection. These factors, working together, can lead to dire circumstances more often than they ever should be allowed.

When circulation is a concern to your feet, we want to stay on top of it as much as possible. That is why we provide circulatory testing, including ABI, right in our office.

By monitoring the circulatory situation in your feet and lower legs, we can more quickly recommend and implement measures to combat the effects. That, in turn, can help you maintain the health of your feet for a much longer time.

A woman holding her feet

What is ABI Testing?

ABI stands for “ankle brachial index.” It provides a reading of the circulatory health in your lower legs by comparing the blood pressure there to the blood pressure in your upper body.

The test is relatively easy. While you lie on your back, we take a blood pressure reading from your arms as well as your ankles. We then compare the values of these areas against each other—ankle pressure over arm pressure.

The lower the blood flow to your ankles is compared to the arm, the more likely that there is a condition such as PAD interfering with blood flow in the lower body. Regular monitoring through ABI testing (annually, although the schedule may be lengthened or shortened based on individual cases) can help us track the progression of any interference in your blood flow.

There will likely be no preparations you will have to make for this test, although it will help to wear loose clothing that we can easily adjust to take your blood pressure properly. You will also need to have been in a resting state for 15-30 minutes before the test.

When Should I Have ABI Testing?

Typically, there are certain risk factors that make ABI testing more likely to be necessary. They include:

  • Having diabetes
  • Having high blood pressure
  • Being over the age of 70
  • Having high levels of lipids in your blood
  • Having abnormal pulse measurements in your legs
  • Experiencing symptoms of pain in your legs during activity (i.e. intermittent claudication)
  • Having a history of smoking

Many cases of PAD do not initially present any symptoms, however. We may still recommend an ABI test based on your medical history or other factors, even if you are not showing any outward signs of a problem at this time. Considering how quick and painless the test is, there is not much reason to postpone it.

Proactive Care for the Future of Your Feet

When it comes to circulation, waiting for considerable problems to manifest is already spending too much time.

ABI testing is just one tool in our arsenal to help patients maintain optimal foot health. We can work with you to fully understand the factors that may be interfering with your circulation and recommend the best steps to combat them effectively. And as your needs and circumstances change, so can the way we approach your treatment.

For any foot and ankle concerns or questions you may have, never hesitate to contact any of our offices throughout the greater Chicago area.

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