April 28, 2016
What are your feet trying to tell you?
May is National Foot Health Month, a time to encourage us all to pay more attention to our feet and to highlight the importance of keeping them healthy.
If your feet could talk, what would they tell you?
Your feet mirror your general health and many conditions can show their initial symptoms in the feet -- so foot ailments can be your first sign of more serious medical problems.
You may not like it, but hair on your toes in actually a good thing. A lack of hair on your toes and the tops of your feet means that blood flow is restricted from getting to the area - often a sign on Peripheral Artery Disease.
Spots or lines under your toenails
A discoloured spot underneath a toenail may be a sign of melanoma, a potentially fatal form of skin cancer. Melanoma under a toenail usually looks like a brown or black streak or may appear similar to a bruise that never goes away.
Short red or brown lines under the nail, often called splinter haemorrhages, are usually harmless however they can be a sign of a serious infection in the lining of the heart (Endocarditis). It is unlikely that there would not be accompanying symptoms or warning signs as well, but if you notice splinter haemorrhages and don't recall any trauma, it's always best to have it checked by a health professional.
A wound that won't heal
Loss of feeling in the feet from diabetic neuropathy makes it more likely that small cuts or trauma will go unnoticed, leaving wounds at risk for infection. Poor blood flow along with compromised ability to fight infection puts diabetics at greater risk for wounds that progressively worsen and may require amputation.
An open or inflamed skin wound that won't heal can also be a sign of skin cancer and should be assessed by your doctor.
The most common reasons for discoloured nails are fungus and psoriasis. Nails are commonly yellow or green in colour.
Half-and-half nails are associated with chronic kidney failure. Typically, the nail bed will be white with reddened or dark tips. It is estimated that up to 40 percent of patients with renal insufficiency have half-and-half nails during the course of their disease.
Changes in toe colour
Raynaud’s disease can cause toes to turn white, then bluish, and then redden again and return to their natural tone. The cause is a sudden narrowing of the arteries, called vasospasms. Stress or changes in temperature can trigger vasospasms.
Spoon shaped nails
If your toenails curve inward like a spoon, you may have an iron deficiency which is a reduced number of red blood cells due to a lack of iron in the body.
Clubbing means the tissue beneath the nails thickens and the tips of the toes become rounded and bulbous causing the toenails to curve downward over the rounded toe. Lung disease is the most common underlying cause, but it also can be caused by heart disease, liver and digestive disorders, or certain infections.
Numbness in the legs, feet and toes can be a sign of Peripheral Neuropathy. Exposure to high blood glucose levels over an extended period of time from diabetes can cause damage to the peripheral nerves, leaving those affected unable to properly feel pain, heat, or cold.
Feet that stay consistently swollen can be a sign of a serious medical condition. The cause may be poor circulation, a problem with the lymphatic system, or a blood clot. A kidney disorder or underactive thyroid can also cause swelling. With such a range of causes, it's important to have your chiropodist assess what's behind the swelling.
A constant burning sensation in your feet can be a sign of a vitamin B deficiency, athlete’s foot, chronic kidney disease, peripheral arterial disease, or hypothyroidism. Have your feet checked by your chiropodist to rule out any serious conditions.
Keeping your feet in good condition with proper, professional foot care and addressing minor issues as they arise prevents more costly and complicated foot problems from developing down the road.