I seem to have developed a fetish for “question” type titles and they seem appropriate most of the time. Today, let’s talk about healthy feet. Your feet can be fairly accurate indicators of an underlying health problem. Being alert and taking timely action can save you a lot of hassle, pain and stress, not to mention medical bills.
Here are changes in your feet and nails you can watch out for:
Do your toes always feel cold? This is probably because of poor blood circulation especially in smokers, those with high blood pressure or heart disease. Out of control diabetes that causes nerve damage can also result in cold feet. If your feet are cold and you don’t know why, check with a doctor.
At the end of an exhausting day, achy feet are normal, especially for women who wear high heels. But if you don’t wear them, that constant pain may be from a stress fracture due to intense exercise such as long distance running, basket ball, etc. If you have osteoporosis, this makes it worse.
If your feet turn blue and then red and later look normal again, you could be a chameleon. Nah, a more likely reason is “Raynaud’s disease”. This narrows the arteries and could be related to rheumatoid arthritis or thyroid problems.
An inflammation in the ligament connected with the heel bone can cause sharp heel pain particularly when you wake up in the morning, when you put your weight on your feet. Ill fitting shoes, an overdose of exercise and arthritis can also cause this. Sometimes, a bone spur at the heel, an infection, tumor or a fracture can cause achy heels.
If you find yourself dragging your feet as you walk, or a change in your gait, it can be the start of losing normal sensation in your feet from peripheral nerve damage, usually connected with diabetes or infection, vitamin deficiency, and alcoholism.
Sometimes the shape of the toes changes with the nails becoming rounded on top, and curving downward. This is caused by lung disease, heart disease, liver and digestive problems or infections. But it can also be genetic without any other problems.
Arrgh! This happens to me often. Sitting or standing too long, on a long flight can cause this. Pregnant women suffer from this. Putting your feet up on a pillow usually makes it better. But if the feet stay swollen without subsiding, it could indicate bad circulation, lymphatic system issues or blood clot. Or even a kidney or thyroid dysfunction. See a doctor.
Diabetics usually get a burning sensation in their feet due to gradual nerve damage. Burning feet are also caused by a vitamin deficiency, athlete’s foot, and chronic kidney disease, poor circulation in the legs and feet or hypothyroidism.
Foot sores that do not heal could herald diabetes. Diabetes prevents wounds from healing, causing blisters that invite infection. If you are diabetic, take extra care to keep your feet dry and clean.
Painful big toe
This is usually due to gout which causes pain and swelling in the big toe. Another cause is osteoarthritis. Athletes who play on hard surfaces develop turf toe, because of injuries around the toe joint.
Pain in the smaller toes
Pain that starts at the ball of your foot and radiates to the toes, with a thickening of tissue around the nerve between the third and fourth toes is more in women than in men. This is caused by an injury or pressure on the toes.
This is due to fungal infections and called athlete’s foot especially in men. It may also be from an allergic reaction to cosmetics. Thick skin on itchy feet may indicate psoriasis, an immune system problem. Your doctor may recommend topical cream to relieve this itch.
Toenail color and shape are indicators of your overall health. Yellow toenails are caused by fungal infections or swelling in the lymphatic system, lung problems or rheumatoid arthritis. If your toes are spoon shaped, you could have an iron deficiency. Whitish nails could be due to injury or illness. Sometimes the nail separates from the nail bed (ugh!) due to injury or infection. Intact nails that are white could indicate liver disease, congestive heart failure, or diabetes. If your toenails develop depressions or look pitted, check for psoriasis.
Just imagine, feet we take for granted to carry our weight and move around can be serious indicators of various conditions. So take good care of your feet and don’t ignore anything unusual, especially if it persists.
Is there a topic you would like to read about? Please mail me at vidzword [at] gmail [dot] com
Vidya Sury keeps her feet healthy as a Freelance Writer and Professional Blogger. She’s mom to a teenager who has happy feet.