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Peripheral Signals: 7 Things Your Feet Say About Your Health

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Numbness, non healing foot sores, and yellow, brittle toenails as harbingers of diabetes and fungal nail infections is common knowledge. However, there are many other bodily health conditions that manifest themselves as physical foot changes; some of which are given below. Get yourself checked by a specialist or a podiatrist if you have any alarming foot changes.

1-Dry, Flaky Skin:

Weather changes and a simple lack of moisturization can account for most cases of dry feet. However, when accompanied by unexplained weight loss or gain, hand numbness, and newly-acquired vision issues, the perpetually dry, cracked, and flaky heels or balls of the feet may indicate thyroid dysfunction. On the contrary, dry, flaky, and itchy skin between the toes is often a sign of athlete’s foot.

2-Balding Toes:

Although much less dense in women than men, a sudden absence or shedding of toe hair may signal Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD) which causes plaque buildup and blood flow obstruction in leg and feet arteries; possibly leading to heart attack or stroke if left untreated. Testing your ankle’s pulse is an efficient way to determine a possible PAD diagnosis.

3-Red, White, and Blue Toes:

If sudden exposure to temperature extremes or a major stress bout causes the toes to change colours from white, blue, red, then back to white again, then Raynaud’s disease may be at play. Cutting off peripheral blood supply via arterial constriction, Raynaud’s is hardly ever a cause of concern, though it may indicate underlying disorders like thyroiditis and rheumatoid arthritis.

4-Itchy Feet:

At their best, your itchy feet coupled with redness and dry patches may be the result of reactions to certain chemicals or skin-care products, or athlete’s foot. At their worst, they may indicate psoriasis (an autoimmune skin condition), particularly if the skin also appears thick and pimple-like. Psoriasis may also affect nails; generally appearing as holes or grooves in the toenails.

5-Cold Feet:

Anxiety attacks and nervousness can induce a temporary case of cold feet. However, consistently cold feet are either the result of reduced blood flow due to hypertension, heart disease, or smoking, or may indicate diabetic nerve damage. On the contrary, burning feet may indicate a vitamin B deficiency, chronic kidney disease, PAD, hypothyroidism, athlete’s foot, or even diabetic neuropathy (nerve damage).

6-Black and Red Lines or Spots:

Melanoma, the deadliest and most prevalent form of skin cancer may also appear in places generally unexposed to sunlight, the feet and toenails being one of them. This makes black or brown vertical lines under toenails a possible cause for concern. However, accidentally dropping a heavy object over the feet or a fungal infection can also cause nail discolouration. Similarly, the sudden appearance of unexplained tiny, red lines under toe and fingernails might refer to endocarditis (an infection in the heart’s lining).

7-Foot Pain:

If burning or shooting foot pain is the first thing you feel upon getting up in the morning, then arthritis-induced joint inflammation or a contracted tissue band running between the heel and toe (plantar fasciitis) may be to blame. Foot cramps, on the other hand, may be due to dehydration, poor blood circulation, or a calcium, potassium, magnesium, sodium, or vitamin D deficiency.

If foot pain is a day-long affair, then a stress fracture (thin line in the bone) due to strenuous activity or weakened bones resulting from osteoporosis may be to blame.

For toes, persistent pain in the big toe may be a sign of gout, a form of arthritis caused by elevated uric acid levels, or a toe ligament injury (turf toe) if you’re an athlete who plays hard surface sports like basketball. On the contrary, a past injury caused by excess pressure on the toes can manifest as the burning pain of Morton’s Neuroma in the smaller toes.

Regular observation is an excellent self-care practice. However, if you do observe any of the signs above, consult with your doctor instead of jumping to conclusions and self-treating, as it can worsen an otherwise benign condition.

You can also book an appointment with a top Orthopedic Specialist or Podiatrist in Lahore, Karachi and Islamabad through oladoc.com, or call our helpline at 042-3890-0939 for assistance to find the RIGHT Doctor for your foot-related concerns.

Disclaimer: The contents of this article are intended to raise awareness about common health issues and should not be viewed as sound medical advice for your specific condition. You should always consult with a licensed medical practitioner prior to following any suggestions outlined in this article or adopting any treatment protocol based on the contents of this article.
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