What Can Your Feet Tell You About Your Health?
Our feet are a part of our body that is often overlooked unless it begins to tell us through pain. Most of us are probably guilty of not checking our feet for issues often enough. And really, unless you often get foot massages or visit a podiatrist regularly, how long would it take you to notice anything unusual? There are many health issues that show symptoms in the feet. Here are just some of them:
Gout And Other Forms Of Arthritis
Gout usually starts with sudden, severe pain in the big toe (though it can also be in other joints). Other types of arthritis can also cause swelling and pain in the feet and ankles. Although the cause of the swelling may be something as inauspicious as ill-fitting shoes, you should visit your podiatrist or doctor if you are at all concerned.
It’s perfectly natural to get pins and needles in your feet every now and then. However, regular numbness and tingling in the feet can be a sign of nerve damage such as peripheral neuropathy. Other symptoms may include loss of balance and an injury (perhaps a cut or ulcer) on your foot that takes a long time to heal.
Sharp pain in the bottom of your feet when you first get up in the morning and when standing or walking for long periods might be due to plantar fasciitis. This occurs when your plantar fascia (a ligament connecting your heel bone to your toes becomes inflamed.
The link between diabetes and your feet is well-known. Raised blood sugar can damage the sensation in your feet, so you may not notice if your feet are injured. It is recommended that you check your feet regularly, and visit your doctor or podiatrist if you notice any injuries that are not healing.
Discolouration under your toenails may be down to a fungal infection. Athlete’s foot is a common fungal skin infection that affects the feet, and as well as discolouration it can have symptoms such as blisters, itching, burning and peeling skin. If it’s left without treatment, the condition can be very uncomfortable. Discolouration under the toenails can also be down to melanoma in some cases, so it is vital to get this checked out.
Six Tips To Maintain Healthy Feet and the Freedom To Move
1. Clean Your Feet Daily and Wear Clean, Dry Socks
Wash your feet daily in lukewarm water. Avoid using hot or cold water. Water that is too hot or too cold can damage your skin, especially in people with diabetes who have decreased skin sensation. Use a soft washcloth or sponge and gentle soap. Then, rinse thoroughly and dry your feet completely before donning socks and shoes.
When our feet sweat, moisture gets held against our skin by most socks. Socks that are bunched up or too tight around the ankles or calf also can cause irritation or problems. The American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons warns that having diabetes increases the risk of developing a wide range of foot problems. People with diabetes should consider special socks designed with extra cushioning and moisture-wicking fiber.
2. Inspect Your Feet Regularly
Check your feet for blisters, redness, small cuts, or cracked skin. If you can’t see the bottom of your feet, use a hand mirror with magnification. If you notice any problems, contact a doctor or physical therapist. Never ignore a problem with your feet. If you have diabetes, check your feet daily.
3. Cut Nails Carefully and Regularly
Keep your nails trimmed, but not too short. Nails that are cut too short can become ingrown and cause soreness or infection. It is best to cut nails straight across and then carefully file the edges. If you cannot cut your own nails, a podiatrist can assist. If you use a nail salon, make sure to tell them to be careful not to cut your toenails too short or injure your skin during filing.
4. Always Wear Well-Fitted Shoes
Shoes that don't fit well may cause blisters that can lead to infection or other problems. Make sure you choose shoes that do not irritate your feet. Wear shoes that properly support your feet and ankles to ensure safety while walking.
A physical therapist can help ensure that your shoes fit properly for general wear or sports-specific activities and recommend shoes or shoe inserts (orthotics) for proper support.
5. Moisturize Your Feet at Night
Keep your skin soft and healthy by moisturizing every night. This can help prevent itching or cracking. Avoid putting lotion between your toes.
6. Keep Your Blood Sugar Under Control
According to the National Institutes of Health, diabetes can affect your feet. High blood sugar levels can cause nerve damage, resulting in loss of skin sensation. Reduced blood flow also can make it harder for your feet to heal from an injury or resist infection.
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