Don’t wait until you are on your ‘last legs’ – start looking after them better this Legs Matter Week

Every two hours in England, someone loses their leg due to a non-healing wound. North East Essex CCG is taking part in Legs Matter Awareness Week, June 3-7, to urge people to ‘stand up’ to one of the UK’s biggest health challenges.


Each year, it is estimated that more than a million people in the UK suffer from serious leg and foot conditions and the resulting delays to correctly diagnose and treat them can cause unnecessary suffering, disability, amputation and even death.


Costing the NHS up to £5.3 billion annually, leg and foot ulcers, oedema (a failure of the lymphatic system), narrowing of the arteries and other serious problems need to be treated quickly and correctly to reduce the risk of non-healing wounds, secondary health problems and deteriorating health.  An NHS England study estimates that having effective care early reduces leg ulcer healing times from around two years to just a few months and is 10 times cheaper. But many patients suffer unnecessarily for several years due to a lack of knowledge and not accessing the right care.


Simple changes, like moisturising legs every day, or trying to walk for about 30 minutes three times a week, can make a big difference with leg care. If a change is noticed, such as swelling or reddish brown staining above the ankle, it’s best to talk to your GP or pharmacist as soon as possible.


Dr Nirmalan de Silva, GP at Mill Road Surgery in Colchester, said, “Leg and foot problems are often overlooked by patients, but it’s so important to look out for the warning signs of something more serious. We’ve recently seen some very sad, although rare, cases where patients have died due to leg problems, including some where if patients had sought help early on, we could have sorted out life-saving treatment for them. We want patients to know that they should be talking to their GP, pharmacist, podiatrist or nurse if they notice anything that doesn’t seem quite right – early treatment for these problems makes all the difference.”


The CCG has issued 11 top tips to help you look after your legs and feet:


Legs 11! 11 tips for looking after your legs and feet

Look out for:

  1. Swelling
  2. Sores, ulcers or wounds that aren’t healing
  3. Varicose veins
  4. Dry, itchy or scaly skin or skin that’s hot, inflamed and tender
  5. Reddish brown staining above the ankle
  6. Cramp or pain after walking
  7. Eat a healthy diet to maintain a healthy weight
  8. Keep active – if you are able, aim to walk three times a week for 30 minutes, or if you are more restricted there are gentle exercises you can do, such as moving your feet around in a circle and then up and down, to help get blood back to your heart.
  9. Cut down on smoking or quit altogether. Smoking reduces the amount of blood that reaches the skin on your legs, and so reduces healing.
  10. Keep your skin in good condition by moisturising your legs every day and avoiding drying soaps
  11. Manage your pain with painkillers to keep it under control, such as paracetamol.



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