Worried about your health? Start from the ground up by taking a closer look at your feet.
Symptoms such as heel pain, swelling, or discoloration can often alert you to a larger issue. FYZICAL Therapist Scott Pensivy, MSPT details 17 different symptoms and what they could mean for your health!
1. Cold feet:
Cold feet may be the result of many culprits. If your toes are always cold, one reason could be poor blood flow. A circulation problem is sometimes linked to smoking, high blood pressure, diabetes, or heart disease. The nerve damage of uncontrolled diabetes can also make your feet cold. Other possibilities can include hypothyroidism and anemia. A doctor can look at these underlying problems with blood tests and an assessment.
2. Foot pain:
When your feet ache after a long day, you might just curse your shoes. After all, eight of 10 women say their shoes hurt. Pain that is not due to high heels may come from a stress fracture or a small crack in a bone. One possible cause can be exercise that was too intense, particularly high-impact sports like basketball or running. The weakness of bones with osteoporosis or osteopenia can increase your risk.
3. Red, white, and blue toes:
Raynaud’s disease can cause your toes to turn white, then bluish, and then red again, and return to the natural tone. The cause of the sudden narrowing of the arteries cause vaso spasms. Stress or changes in the temperature can trigger vaso spasms, which usually do not lead to any other health concerns . Raynaud’s may also be related to rheumatoid arthritis, Sjogren’s disease, or thyroid conditions.
4. Heel pain:
The most common cause of heel pain is plantar fasciitis. This is an inflammation of the long ligament attaching from the heel bone to the toes. The pain may be sharp when you first wake up in the morning. Once the tissue has been torn, pain decreases. Less common causes include a bone spur on the bottom of the feet, bone infection, tumor, or fracture.
5. Dragging your foot:
Sometimes the first sign of a problem is a change in the way you walk, a wider gait, or slight foot dropping. The cause may be slow loss of normal sensation in your feet brought on by peripheral nerve damage. About 30% of these causes are linked to diabetes. Nerve damage can be caused due to infection, vitamin deficiency, or alcoholism. Also lower back pain can be the culprit for the foot drop with a significant nerve damage causing this weakness.
With clubbing, the shape of the toes (and often the fingers) changes. The nails are more rounded on the top and curve downward. Lung disease is the most common underlying cause, but it also can be caused by heart disease, liver, and digestive disorders. There are also infections that can cause these disorders or abnormal position of the foot and toes. Sometimes clubbing runs in families without an underlying disease. Cystic fibrosis often sees clubbing in fingers, decreased oxygen to the digits.
7. Swollen feet:
This is usually a temporary nuisance caused by standing too long or a long flight, especially if you are pregnant. In contrast, feet that stay swollen can be a sign of serious medical condition. The cause may be poor circulation or problems with the lymphatic system or blood clotting. A kidney disorder or underlying underactive thyroid can cause can cause the swelling. If you have persistent swelling of the feet, see your physician as soon as you can.
8. Sores that do not heal:
Foot sores that will not heal are a major warning sign for diabetes. Diabetes can impair the sensation in your feet and circulation and normal wound healing, so even a blister can become a troublesome wound. Those sores are also prone to infections. Diabetics should wash and dry their feet and check them on a daily basis or have an individual check in areas that you cannot see. Slow-healing sores can also be caused by poor circulation from conditions, such as peripheral arterial disease.
9. Pain in the smaller toes:
If you feel like you are walking on marbles or experience burning in the balls of your feet that radiates to your toes, you may have a Morton’s neuroma, a thickening tissue around a nerve, usually between the third and fourth toe. It is eight to ten times more common in women than men, mostly because of poorly-fitting shoes.
10. Itchy feet:
Itchy, scaling feet may be the sign of athlete’s foot or fungal infection that is common in men between the ages of 20 to 40. A reaction to a chemical or skin product, called contact dermatitis, can also cause itching, along with redness and dry patchiness. If the skin on your itchy feet feels thick and pimply like, it may be psoriasis or overreacting of immune system. Medication creams can usually relieve these symptoms.
11. Claw toes:
This foot deformity can be caused by shoes that are pinching your toes or by a disease that is damaging your nerves, such as diabetes, alcoholism, or other neurological disorders. This occurs when the muscles are not getting the right information causing contractions of the muscles that pull on the toes that causes the pulling. Your toes will be bent upwards as they are extended from the ball of your feet, then downward from the middle toes, resembling a claw. They may respond to stretching and exercises of the toes or you may need a surgical procedure to correct this.
12. Foot spasms:
A sudden or sharp pain in the foot is a hallmark of muscle spasms/cramps, which can last many minutes. Overworked muscles and fatigue are common causes. Other causes/indications include poor circulation, dehydration, imbalance of potassium, magnesium, calcium, or vitamin D levels in the body. Just recently, we have found that many are being tested for vitamin D deficiency and are low. Make sure you get your vitamin D checked with a blood test. The changing hormone levels of pregnancy or thyroid disorders may play a role also.
13. Dark spots on the foot:
We associate skin cancer with the sun, so we are not as likely to check our feet for unusual spots. However, a melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer, can develop even in the areas that are not regularly exposed to the sun. Melanoma can even appear beneath the nails, where it might look like a black spot.
14. Yellow toenails:
Your toenails tell you a lot about your overall health. A fungal infection can cause thickening and yellowing of the toenails. Thick, yellow nails also can be a sign of underlying disease, including lymphedema, swelling related to lymphatic system, lung problems, or rheumatoid arthritis.
15. Spoon-shaped nails:
Sometimes an injury to the nail or frequent exposure to petroleum based solvents can cause a concave-like, spoon-like shape of your toenails. However, iron deficiency also can be the cause of this unusual shape.
16. White nails:
Injury to the nail or illness anywhere in the body can cause white areas in the nails. If the nail is intact and most of it is white, it can sometimes be a sign of a more serious condition, including liver disease, congestive heart failure, or diabetes.
17. Pitting of the nails:
Pitting or punctured-looking depressions in the surface of the nail is caused by disruption in the growth of the nail or nail plates. It affects as many as half the people with psoriasis.
Have any of these symptoms resonated with you? If yes, we would be happy to help. Our therapists are experts are the human body, and if we determine you need to see a specialist, we can help you get an appointment with a reputable medical professional. Start by submitting a form through FYZICAL First, we will call you to get started within 24 hours!