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What Your Foot Says About Your Health

"A good look on your feet tells how well you take care of yourself."
By: Stef dela Cruz, MDWhat Your Foot Says About Your Health

They take you places, yet your feet are bound not to receive as much care and attention as your hands. Perhaps it’s because they require a little bit of acrobatic bending just for you to reach them. Maybe it’s because you can hide them in some fancy socks or a nice pair of shoes.

No need to kick yourself mentally for having ignored your feet! Give them the credit they deserve by reading through this list of foot-related signs and symptoms, all of which point to at least one condition worth paying attention to.

A painful, swollen big toe

You wake up in the morning with an inflamed big toe – it looks angry and ouch, it hurts! You’re probably wondering why, especially because you did nothing strenuous yesterday. The only noteworthy thing you did, in fact, was celebrate your promotion with your friends.

What you most probably have is podagra, the characteristic swollen, painful big toe present in people with gout. About five to nine out of every ten people experiencing their first attack of gout complain of podagra, according to Dr. Robert Smith in a 2009 article published in U.S. Pharmacist.

Gout is due to the accumulation of uric acid crystals. A simple blood test can determine if you have elevated uric acid levels in the blood, called hyperuricemia. Take note, however, that high uric acid levels don’t automatically lead to a diagnosis of gout.

A wound on your foot that won’t heal

You didn’t even notice how the wound came to be. It’s been there for weeks now, refusing to go away. If you have diabetes, that non-healing wound may be a diabetic ulcer. Diabetes predisposes you to a diabetic ulcer in many ways. The excess glucose in your blood eventually damages nerves, leading to numbness. That means you won’t feel pain when your toes are being pinched or injured, reported Dr. Andrew Boultonand his team in a 2004 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Big, swollen feet

Your feet look swollen after an entire afternoon of shopping – is this normal? Unless you’re pregnant, chances are, it’s not. Your feet’s tissues accumulate fluid when your blood vessels can’t bring blood back up to your heart as efficiently as it should. It’s what happens when you have venous insufficiency, a condition where blood backs up, despite the one-way traffic.

Cold feet

Figurative context aside, having literally cold feet may be a symptom of hypothyroidism. When the thyroid gland produces less thyroid hormone than it should, you have hypothyroidism. It may not manifest at all, as once thought, according to Dr. Philip Orlander and his team in a 2015 article published in Medscape.

Red, white, and blue toes

Who knew your feet could be so colorful? If you notice your toes turning pale, then a bluish color, then a flushed red before it goes back to its natural tone, chances are, you are experiencing Raynaudphenomenon. Wearing gloves, avoiding cigarettes, and other lifestyle changes helps prevent attacks. If you think you are experiencing Raynaud phenomenon, ask your doctor if it’s due to an underlying condition.

Foot cramps, even at rest

Foot cramps may be due to electrolyte imbalance, such as low calcium or potassium levels. However, it may also be due to something more serious, such as thromboangiitis obliterans (Buerger disease). No, it’s not something you get from eating too many burgers! If anything, it is more associated with smoking. Unlike leg cramps due to exercise, the pain of thromboangiitis obliterans occurs even when you’re not doing anything.

Painful heels

Sometimes, symptoms in the feet point to a disease in – surprise, surprise – the feet! Your feet, after all, don’t always act like a crystal ball shedding light on conditions in other areas of the body. Most commonly, painful heels are caused by plantar fasciitis. It is due to degenerative, repetitive insults to the plantar fascia, the connective tissue in the heel area.

Bunions, heel pain, and frequent blisters

Taken together, these are signs of one condition you won’t find in medical books: You may just be diagnosed as a tightwad! Yes, being stingy can cause all these problems of the foot. After all, if you refuse to change the shoes you’ve been wearing for several years now, you’re likely to experience recurrent heel pain and blisters. If you also insist on wearing those ill-fitting shoes simply because you got them on sale, you might as well get ready for bunions!

When the soles of your shoes start looking worn out, it’s time to throw them away and buy a new pair. After all, your feet deserve to feel brand new –so do you.

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