Once the arteries in your legs deliver oxygenated blood to the legs and feet, the veins must then work against the pull of gravity to get that blood back to the heart. Problems arise when there’s insufficient blood pressure in those veins to get the blood back to the heart--a common condition diabetics live with daily.
Leg muscles squeeze the veins to push the blood back to the heart. The blood goes through valves that only open one-way. When the muscles relax, the valves close and the blood can’t flow back. Diabetes can weaken the muscle tissue, allowing blood to leak which often leads to leg discoloration and swelling.
The best way to avoid this problem is to keep your diabetes under control. Monitor your sugar levels. Be careful about what you eat and make sure to take your medications (if your doctor has prescribed them). In addition, consult your doctor if you begin to see leg discoloration and swelling because it could be an indication that your medication is not working and needs to be adjusted.
There are a few treatments you can try to keep the blood moving. Your doctor may prescribe blood thinners to aid circulation. Anti-inflammatory pills can be useful in reducing swelling. Your doctor might also prescribe corticosteroids or gout medications that can reduce inflammation.
The best way to avoid this problem is to get moving. Walk more; it improves the blood flow through your legs. You can also lie down and raise your legs to ease the flow of blood from your feet to your heart. Follow a low-sodium diet to help reduce swelling.
Check your legs and feet daily for any signs of discoloration. Besides the swelling and discoloration, you might find dry or itchy skin or thickened toe nails. Washing your feet in a tepid bath using a mild soap will help prevent infections. Applying a skin lotion on your legs and feet will help keep the skin moist and supple. Keep your toenails trimmed to avoid damage to the skin around the toes.