Foot pulse – How to find a pedal pulse?

This article is about how to feel a foot pulse. Usually, when you go to your doctor he or she will check the pulse in your hands. So most people believe that you can only check the pulse at your wrist. This is definitely not the case. Pulses can be felt in every limb and even on the trunk and neck as well. The methods to take two different types of pulses in the feet are mentioned below.

foot pulse

Types of Foot Pulses

The two main pulses felt in the feet are the dorsalis pedis pulse and the posterior tibial pulse.

How to take a dorsalis pedis pulse ?

Place your finger on the upper (dorsal) aspect of the foot. Draw a straight line, starting at the mid-space between the first and second toe (i.e. the first and second digits of the feet) and ending at the middle of the ankle joint. The dorsalis pedis artery pulse is usually felt on the proximal one-third of this line.

How to take the posterior tibial pulse ?

Place your fingers behind the medial malleolus. The medial malleolus is the projection of the tibial bone on the medial side of the ankle joint. To take the posterior tibial pulse place two fingers posterior and inferior to the medial malleolus at the site called the pimenta’s point. The pimenta point is not as important to remember as the artery can slide a bit forward and back depending on the orientation of the foot. You can watch the video below to learn a lot more about it.

What is a Pulse ?

A pulse is defined as the bounding pressure that one feels when an artery is pressed against a bony or hard surface. As you may recall from your science class that arteries are distributed throughout the body. But it is in the bigger arteries in the bodies that we feel the bounding pressure that we call a pulse. Most commonly the pulse is palpated at the radial artery in the hand. There are also other locations where a pulse can be felt. Pulses can be felt in the following locations in the body:

  • The radial artery at the wrist
  • Brachial artery in the cubital fossa
  • Axillary artery in the Axilla
  • Internal carotid in the neck
  • Femoral artery in the thigh
  • Popliteal artery behind the knee joint
  • Tibial artery behind the medial malleolus
  • Dorsalis Pedis artery on the dorsum of the foot

Being able to take a pulse in different locations is essential as it allows you to diagnose if there is a problem in the arterial supply to a particular limb. This could be due to trauma or diseases such as atherosclerosis, arteriosclerosis, etc.

How long should you take a pulse for?

A pulse is usually taken as number of impulses per minute. That is equivalent to how many times your heart beats per minute or heart rate. You can also take a pulse for 30 sec and then multiply that by 2. You can also take the pulse for 15 seconds and then multiply it by 4.

Why do you have to learn to take a foot pulse ?

In certain diseases, it becomes very important to take foot pulses. These include acute or chronic limb ischemia, diabetic foot, etc. Also when you deal with injuries to the feet or toes it is absolutely essential to gauge the blood supply of the foot by taking the pulse.

More anatomy articles.

Learn More about foot pulses by watching Here.

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