Your annual diabetes foot check (2024)

Everyone with diabetes should have an annual foot check.

Your foot check is part of your annual review, which means you should have it as part of your diabetes care and it's free on the NHS. This is becauseyou’re more likely to have serious foot problems and these can lead to amputations.

If youlive in Scotland, you might have your foot check(also called a foot screening)less often, depending on your risk level for developing a serious foot problem.

Foot checks are happening differently in different areas at the moment because of the coronavirus pandemic.But if you develop a problem with your feet, it's really important to speak to your care team right away - don't delay. We've got lots of information onwhat care you can expect during the pandemic.

Diabetes leads to 169 amputations a week.

That's 24 amputations a day and 1 amputation every hour. Going to your foot checks and knowing the signs to look out for could prevent this from happening.

In most cases, serious foot problems can be prevented. You can do this by checking your feet yourself every day, and having a foot check at least once a year that’s arranged by your GP practice. Everyone with diabetes should havean annual foot check, so make sure you get yours – even if you’ve been referred to a foot specialist or clinic. They will check your feet but also tell you your level of risk of foot problems.

What happens at your foot check

It will usually be at your GP surgery as part of your annual diabetes checks.

You’ll need to take off any dressings and footwear, including socks and tights. Your feet will be examined. Numbness or changes in sensation (also known as neuropathy) will be tested with a special piece of equipment. They’ll also check your shoes to make sure they’re not causing any problems.

You’ll also be asked lots of questions about your feet and how you manage your diabetes. Such as:

  • Have you had any problems or noticed any changes likecuts, blisters, broken skin, corns?
  • Have you ever had any foot problems or wounds?
  • Have you had any pain or discomfort?
  • How often do you check your feet?
  • Do you have any cramp-like pains when walking?
  • How well are you managing your diabetes?

To help you make the most of your foot check, we've got a guide to taking care of your feet when you have diabetes that you can download (PDF, 1.3MB). You can also order a printed version for free from our shop.

Know your risk of a foot problem

Your healthcare team will tell you your results and how much you're at risk of a foot problem. These include:

  • Low – no risk, or a callus without any other problem.
  • Moderate – one sign of a foot problem, such as a loss of sensation or a change in foot shape.
  • High – more than one signof a foot problem, or a previous ulcer or amputation.

You might also hear your healthcare professional say your level of foot problem is active. This means you have highly serious foot complications, such as a spreading infection or ulcer and you should be having treatment for it already.

You’ll get information that explains what your level of risk means, and be told what you need to do next. If your feet are moderate or high, you’ll be referred to the foot protection team where you'll see a foot specialist.

If you live in Scotland

If you live in Scotland, you might have your foot check less often than every year, depending on your level of risk.This is based on the latest research evidence and issafe.

Ifyourhealthcare professionalsays your risk level is:

  • Low, your foot check will now happen every other yearasit’s not likely you will developfoot problems.But if you notice any changes in your feet,like changes in colour, swelling or loss offeeling,you shouldspeak with your diabetes care team straight away.
  • Moderate,you will be referred to a podiatrist. If the podiatrist doesn’t think you need more regular checks, you will keep having a foot check every year. If you need to have more monitoring, the podiatrist will discuss a plan with youand you'll keep having anannual foot check.
  • High, the podiatrist will now be in charge of your footcare. The podiatrist will discuss a plan with you to help you take care of your feet. The plan willbe reviewed at least once a year and you might be referred to other specialists. This is to help stop you from getting a foot ulcer that could lead to an amputation.
  • In remission, this means that you have had a foot ulcer, amputation or other foot problem in the past. The podiatrist will discuss a plan with you which will be reviewed at least once a year. You might be referred to other specialists. This is to help stop you from having any more complications with your feet.

Seeing a foot specialist (a podiatrist)

Ask your foot specialist questions. The more you know, the more you can keep an eye on any changes in your feet.

It’s important you’re told how to look after your feet at home too – according to your level of risk. This should include a management or treatment plan. If you don’t get it, ask for it. And make sure you get the details of who to contact if you have a foot problem before your next annual foot check. It’s always good to ask a healthcare professional if you’re worried.

Your annual diabetes foot check (2024)


What to expect at your annual foot check? ›

You should be asked to remove any footwear, including socks/stockings. Your feet should be examined – including looking for corns, calluses and changes in shape. Your feet should be tested for numbness or changes in sensation ('neuropathy') with a tuning fork or a fine plastic strand called a monofilament.

How often should diabetics check their foot health? ›

Everyone who has diabetes should also have their feet checked regularly with a healthcare professional (podiatrist, nurse or doctor) and at the very least once a year at their annual review. However, if you are at increased risk of complications, these inspections may be done more frequently.

How often does Medicare pay for a diabetic foot exam? ›

Part B covers a foot exam every 6 months if you have diabetic peripheral neuropathy and loss of protective sensation, as long as you haven't seen a foot care professional for another reason between visits.

What is the diabetic foot touch test? ›

It consists of the helper touching six toes – three on each foot. They then write down how many of the touches you feel. The touch must be as light as a feather, and for no more than a seconds. They also shouldn't touch each toe more than once.

What are the components of diabetic foot exam? ›

The clinical diabetic foot exam includes four major components: dermatological, vascular, neurological, musculoskeletal.

What happens at a diabetic foot clinic? ›

Each patient will have their medical history, and foot vascular and neurological status checked. Both feet will be checked at each appointment and a plan will be made between the patient and the podiatrist dependent on the consultation's findings.

Do diabetics get free foot care? ›

Diabetes foot screening is an important part of your NHS diabetes care. The screening process checks for any signs or symptoms of changes to your feet, as a result of your diabetes, that could increase your risk of developing a foot ulcer that could lead to amputation.

Why can't you cut diabetic toenails? ›

People with diabetes can easily get wounds on their feet. Improper cutting or care of toenails and feet is the leading cause that could lead to toe finger and foot amputation.

Should diabetics wear socks to bed? ›

Wear socks without seams. Avoid tight-fitting socks and garters. Wear socks in bed if your feet are cold at night. Do not use a hot water bottle or heating pad on your feet.

Should diabetics cut their own toenails? ›

“Anybody who is having any kind of complications … blood flow problems, neuropathy, previous amputations, anything like that, should not be getting pedicures,” Dr. Schweitzer cautions. DON'T: Try to trim your own toenails if you have poor vision or arthritis that makes handling trimmers difficult.

How long does a diabetic foot exam take? ›

As you can see, a comprehensive diabetic foot exam a very simple examination, completely painless, and it takes about 20 - 30 minutes. If you have diabetes, making sure you get this exam every year is one of the most important things you can do to manage your diabetes and prevent amputations.

Does Medicare pay for toenail trimming for diabetics? ›

Medicare will cover the treatment of corns, calluses, and toenails once every 61 days in persons having certain systemic conditions. Examples of such conditions include: Diabetes with peripheral arterial disease, peripheral arterial disease, peripheral neuropathy, and chronic phlebitis.

What are three things you should never do to the feet of someone with diabetes? ›

  • 1 ) Don't use heating pads. Heating pads, electric blankets, hot water bottles, or even extremely hot baths can all be relaxing and soothing, but for someone with diabetes, they can be dangerous. ...
  • 2 ) Don't remove corns on your own. ...
  • 3 ) Get your feet wet in snow or rain.
Feb 21, 2018

How should a diabetic cut their toenails? ›

Take Care of Your Toenails

Trim them straight across, then smooth with a nail file. Avoid cutting into the corners of toes. Don't let the corners of your toenails grow into the skin. This could lead to an ingrown toenail.

What can a doctor tell by looking at your feet? ›

We can also see evidence of dermatological problems like psoriasis.” Dr. Rowland said she can also tell if someone has poor circulation or even diabetes based on the appearance of their feet, which can come as a surprise for some.

How long does a foot exam take? ›

Initial Evaluation: This type of appointment typically takes longer, usually around 30-45 minutes. It involves a comprehensive assessment that includes taking a detailed medical history, performing a thorough foot examination, and engaging in a discussion about your condition and the development of a treatment plan.

How does a podiatrist check your feet? ›

They'll look at how you stand and walk, check the range of motion in your joints, and see how your shoes fit. The first visit is often the time to treat bunions, ingrown toenails, heel and lower back pain, circulation in your feet if you have diabetes, and foot deformities.

What does basic foot care include? ›

Keep proper foot hygiene.

It's important to wash your feet regularly, even between the toes, and make sure that the foot is totally dry. It's also important to regularly trim toenails. Be careful to only trim nails straight across and not on the sides or corners to avoid ingrown toenails.


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