Are your feet cold? Swollen? 8 signs you shouldn’t ignore

Are your feet cold? Swollen? 8 signs you shouldn’t ignore

Did you know you can find clues about your health by paying attention to your feet? You might not realize your foot health can be a determining factor in your overall health. But think about it – you spend much of your life on your feet.

While a lot of research is dedicated to how diabetes can affect foot health, what other serious issues show symptoms in your feet?

Dr. Kellen Cohn, a podiatrist at Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital in Barrington, Ill., provides tips on what to keep an eye on when it comes to your feet:

Pain: Developing pain without injury can lead to chronic pain if left untreated. Plantar fasciitis and sometimes arthritis can loosen up with activity, but fractures certainly worsen it. Fractures aren’t usually something people develop without noticing, unless it’s a stress fracture. Tendonitis is another cause of pain that worsens with activity.

Skin discoloration: Skin discoloration is a worrisome symptom, and Dr. Cohn advises having a biopsy done when the skin displays certain characteristics that includes a growing lesion or one that bleeds easily, discolorations that are asymmetrical, have notched or irregular borders, are not uniform in color or are greater than five millimeters in diameter.

Numbness: Numbness in the feet and legs is called “peripheral neuropathy”. It is a dysfunction of the sensory nerves of the feet and legs that is usually progressive, beginning at the toes where the nerves are most fragile. The underlying cause of neuropathy is what matters. Common causes include diabetes, alcoholism, pinched nerves, medications, thyroid dysfunction, vitamin deficiencies or exposure to radiation and chemotherapy.

Swelling: Swelling, or edema, in the feet and legs is something that should never be overlooked. If caught early, it may be treatable. It is usually a problem stemming from insufficient veins or lymphatic ducts. Elevation, compression stockings, water pills, decreased salt intake and massage can help – especially in early stages. Swelling may also be early evidence of kidney or liver disease.

Cold feet: Cold feet is a symptom of arterial disease. Those inflicted with arterial disease are prone to injury, and healing is greatly delayed. Smoking is a big risk factor, and in smokers, it is not a matter of if but when arterial disease becomes evident. Raynaud’s disease presents itself through toes or fingers turning white, blue or red. It is an intolerance to cold temperatures and is sometimes associated with more serious autoimmune diseases such as scleroderma.

Itchy feet: Itchy feet is typically diagnosed as tinea pedis, also known as athlete’s foot, which is a fungal infection of the skin on the feet. However, if the itch is not responsive to antifungal treatment, other diagnoses include dermatitis or hyperhidrosis.

Gait disturbances: Sometimes overlooked, Parkinson’s can create symptoms in the feet. Gait disturbances can be subtle but very important to getting prompt treatment for the underlying pathology.

Foot structure: Flattening of the feet over time can occur normally, but it’s also the first sign of adult-acquired flatfoot. This pathological process occurs in four stages. Stage one and two are a dysfunction of the posterior tibial muscle, which is treatable, while stages three and four incurs permanent, rigid, painful arthritic deformity, necessitating more invasive treatment.

In addition to flat feet, it’s important to pay attention to your toes. Changes in shape or direction may be a symptom of underlying diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, scleroderma or psoriasis.

It’s very important to take care of your feet. “One piece of advice I give to a lot of patients in order to maintain foot health is to stretch. Of the many biomechanical problems I address, equinus, or a tight Achilles cord, is the most common,” says Dr. Cohn.

“In fact, most people have inadequate flexibility in their Achilles. This can exacerbate many problems including heel pain, forefoot ailments, tendonitis or shin splints,” he says. “Proper Achilles stretching techniques can help resolve many of these problems.”

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One Comment

  1. I am a 51 year old female that just found out I have Parkinson’s, but I have been having signs of it for years, tremors, depression, body weakness. ECT. I honestly don’t think my doctor was reading the signs because of my gender and age. A few years ago I had my shoulder lock up on me and I was sent to a P.T since x-rays didn’t show any physical damage. My shaking was getting worse and I began falling. Only when my speech became so bad that it brought concern to my dentist was Parkinson’s even considered. He phoned my doctor with his concerns about my shaking and balance problems. By this time I was forgoing shots in the back of my neck for back and neck pain to which once again I was sent to a P.T (although x-rays showed no damage) I was told I had a few spurs which were most likely causing the pain. Here I was feeling like my whole body was falling apart and doctor could not find anything wrong, maybe in was all in my head? My doctor even seemed annoyed with me and things just kept progressing and I just kept it to myself, why bother going through testing and them finding nothing? Well, it was after my second P.T called my doctor about the weakness in my legs and arms, by this time I have developed a gait in my walk and I fell more frequently. Only then did my doctor send me to a specialist and it was found that I had Parkinson’s, and that I have had it for awhile. I think because I was a woman that my signs and symptoms weren’t taken seriously and therefor left untreated for so long,I was taking pramipexole dihydrochloride three times daily, I Was on carbidopa levodopa but only lasted 90 minutes then wore off.I found that none of the current medications worked effective for me.I got tired of using those medication so I decided to apply natural herbs formula that was prescribed to me by my second P.T, i purchase the herbal formula from totalcureherbsfoundation. com, There has been huge progression ever since I start the treatment plan which will last for 15 weeks usage.all the symptoms and sign has begin to disappear .

About the Author

Liz Donofrio
Liz Donofrio

Liz Donofrio, health enews contributor, is a marketing specialist at Advocate Health Care. As a newlywed, she is happy to be done planning her wedding and enjoying spending time with her husband and new extended family. In her free time, you can find Liz cooking new tasty recipes for her family, attending Chicago sporting events and chasing after her shih tzu-yorkie, Buttons.