Submitted by Melissa Lockwood, DPM, Heartland Foot and Ankle Associates
It’s been said that the “eyes are the window to the soul,” but our feet are a window to our overall health. We don’t usually give our feet too much attention — until they hurt. But changes in the appearance or condition of the feet are often the first sign of a more serious health issue. This is because the feet are the furthest away from the heart and spine, and therefore, are often the first part of the body to be affected by nerve issues.
Here are some things that your feet might be trying to tell you:
Swollen feet or ankles can be indicative of high blood pressure or some other problem with the cardiovascular system. This may indicate that you’ve been doing too much shopping or sight-seeing and need to take a break!
Feet and toes that are constantly cold may be a sign of a thyroid problem. The thyroid gland regulates body temperature and metabolism. Having an under-active thyroid can lead to a host of other issues including hair loss, weight gain, and fatigue.
Sores that don’t heal can be a sign of diabetes. Uncontrolled glucose levels can cause nerve damage that often affects the feet first. Because of this nerve damage, you may not even feel the sore. If you don’t notice it and care for it — after all, who looks at the bottom of their feet — it can become infected, and you don’t even realize what’s happening.
Foot numbness or tingling feet is also a common symptom of diabetes or may indicate Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD). If numbness/tingling occur from sitting too long or having your feet in a cramped position, that is nothing to be concerned about. If it should happen on a regular basis and while you are active, then it needs to be checked out.
Losing the hair on your toes might be cause for concern. People don’t usually notice toe hair, especially women, and you might think it’s a good thing to have hairless toes, but this may be an indicator of poor blood flow. PAD is one cause of insufficient blood supply to the feet and toes. If this condition is not addressed, it raises your risk for heart attack and stroke.
Foot cramping should not be ignored. It is most likely due to a nutritional deficiency or dehydration, which is easy to correct. Lack of calcium, potassium, or magnesium are often the culprits as is not drinking enough water. In rare instances, cramping can be a sign of nerve damage.
Sore toe joints may signal osteoarthritis, which often shows up first in the small joints of the hands and feet. Less commonly, joint pain can indicate rheumatoid arthritis, which would also have other symptoms.
Dark streaks or spots under the nails that aren’t caused by a trauma, like dropping something heavy on your nail, may indicate melanoma. If you see this, get it checked out immediately!
Feet with cracked, dry, flaky, itchy skin is likely due to a foot fungus (Athlete’s foot) and may also be a sign of a thyroid problem.
Toenails that are yellow and thick are also likely a fungal infection. Some yellowing may be due to age or wearing polish. It’s easy to ignore toenail fungus because, while it causes ugly nails, it is not painful and may develop over the course of many months or even years. The infection can spread to other parts of the body, may make walking painful, and can possibly lead to other types of infections. Don’t ignore any type of foot fungus as it will not go away by itself, and can spread to other people. Fungus can often be difficult to treat, so the sooner you start treatment, the easier it is to remedy. There are many different treatment options available including prescription creams and topical medications as well as laser treatments.
If anything on this list applies to you, see your doctor or podiatrist right away.
For more information, you may contact Heartland Foot and Ankle at 309-661-9975, located at 10 Heartland Dr. in Bloomington. Check out their website at www.HeartlandFootAndAnkle.com for more information on their fungal nail laser and keryflex nail restoration treatment!
The information provided on Healthycellsmagazine.com is provided by the
cooperative efforts among health and fitness professionals in each
respective community. This information is not a substitute for medical
attention. See your healthcare professional for medical advice and
treatment. The opinions, statements, and claims expressed by the
columnists, advertisers, and contributors to Healthycellsmagazine.com
are not necessarily those of the editors or publisher. All information
on this website is copyrighted and cannot be reproduced without written
permission from Limelight Communications, Inc.