Naturally, feet are the number one mode of transport we rely on for walking and getting around. Evidently, foot health is extremely important and our feet need to be well looked after. We often neglect our feet even though in our lifetime, they will help us walk nearly three times around the Earth!
Foot health can be a great indication of our overall health. It can potentially show us the first signs of any serious health problems, in turn it could end up saving your life. This post will reveal what our common foot problems might really be telling us. You don’t always need a medical professional to understand what your feet are telling you if you look for the right warning signs. However, it’s well advised to get your foot health checked by a podiatrist who will assist you with the right treatment.
Hairless feet and toes
Feet and toe hair is often more visible in men than women as women’s hair is often thinner. However, if your toes have started to bald or are losing hair then your foot health is showing signs that there is reduced blood circulation to the feet. This shows there are some circulation issues in your body and could potentially be the first signs of vascular disease such as Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD). This is when blood flow is constricted as there is a build up of plaque in the leg arteries. In the future, PAD can lead to heart attacks, strokes or even amputation if left untreated. Other signs could be that poor feet circulation can make it hard to feel a pulse in the feet. Also, when standing your feet may look redder than when they are elevated and the skin is shiny.
Dry and flaky skin on your feet or toes are most often a sign of a fungal infection, commonly athlete’s foot, or fungal nail infection. You don’t have to be an Olympic athlete to get it! Anyone is at risk of developing athlete’s foot but it can be easily treated with an anti-fungal treatment or prevented by keeping the feet as dry as possible. This type of poor foot health can also be a sign of psoriasis or eczema in the absence of any fungal infections. However, more seriously the dry skin can mean a warning sign for an underlying thyroid condition. If your thyroid gland is over or under active it will affect the hormones it produces which control your metabolic rate, blood pressure and central nervous systems. It can have very serious consequences if a thyroid condition is not detected.
If you are experiencing any numbness in your feet, this is due to a lack of blood flow. Like feet/toe baldness, it can be a sign of PAD. However, your foot health may be fine if you feel numbness when you either sit for too long or fall asleep in an awkward position. If it happens more regularly, then you should recognise it could be caused by PAD. Another cause of foot numbness can be a symptom of type 2 diabetes. Diabetes can affect circulation to the feet meaning that wounds can take longer to heal and have a high risk of infection.
Pain in your heel
If your first few steps cause a burning or shooting pain in your heel, your foot health is telling you something. The pain in your heel happens when there is strain on the ligament supporting the foot’s arch. In some cases, it is a sign of rheumatoid arthritis where the joints have become inflamed. This condition can be easily managed with anti-inflammatory medication and lots of exercise. Or, it could be plantar fasciitis where the tissue which connects your heel to your toe is inflamed. This pain happens when you wake up in the morning because the tissue is still contracted and these first steps will make the tissue stretch again. Less seriously, it could be muscle cramping which is a sign of dehydration or a lack of nutrition. Including calcium, potassium and magnesium in your diet will help to prevent foot cramps in the morning.
The nails of your feet can be indicators of your foot health and overall health. A toenail which unnaturally concaves and is sunken into the nail beds is bad sign. These signs show that you could have an iron deficiency condition called anaemia. This is when the body cannot absorb enough haemoglobin which is the iron-rich protein in our blood cells which helps to transport oxygen around our body. Other factors such as having heavy menstruation blood flow can also be a warning sign of having anaemia.
To find out more about how one of our highly-trained podiatrists can help, give us a call on (03) 9442 2912 or visit us at 663 Plenty Rd in Reservoir.