12 things your feet can tell you about your health

Flickr | Hugo y Charli

When you go in for a checkup or physical, your health care provider likely considers several factors to determine the state of your health, such as your weight, blood pressure and lab test results. However, when was the last time your doctor asked you to take off your shoes and socks for a little look-see? Unless you visited a podiatrist, your answer just might be “never.”

Perhaps you and your doc should start paying a little more attention to your feet. In fact, they can convey symptoms of numerous, significant health concerns.

Read on to learn 12 ways your tootsies may be trying to tell you something.

1. Cold Feet

A number of ailments could cause you to long for socks even in the summertime. Disorders such as atherosclerosis or hypothyroidism can decrease circulation, leading to frosty fingers and toes. Nerve damage is another culprit, as the nerves that detect temperature may not be working correctly.


2. Aching Feet

When it is not caused by injury, overuse or improper footwear, chronic foot pain may be the result of diseases such as arthritis, diabetes or peripheral arterial disease. Spinal problems, such as herniated discs or sciatica, can also produce foot pain, although these are typically associated with leg pain as well.


3. Discolored Feet

A blue, purple, red, brown or spotted appearance to feet could be something as innocuous as a bruise or a sprain, but other serious ailments should be ruled out. Venous insufficiency, Raynaud’s phenomenon (a rare condition that causes blood vessels to react to cold or emotional stress), blood clots and even Rocky Mountain spotted fever can instigate foot discoloration.


4. Dragging Feet

Foot drop, which is a term for difficulty lifting the front part of the foot, may be triggered by a number of underlying causes. These include nerve injury, muscle or nerve disorders and brain or spinal cord disorders.

walking photo
Flickr | GrrLash

5. Swollen Feet

Peripheral edema is fluid buildup in the feet, ankles and/or legs. It can be brought on by blood clots, venous insufficiency, pericarditis (inflammation of the pericardium membrane surrounding the heart), lymphedema or cirrhosis, among other causes.


6. Burning Feet

Although they may appear fine on the outside, feet that feel as though they are on fire can point to numerous causes. Everything from athlete’s foot and vitamin deficiency anemia to chronic kidney disease, hypothyroidism and Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease can cause inflamed feet.


7. Tingling Feet

When that pins-and-needles feeling comes on and you haven’t been sitting on your feet, the cause may be concerning. The possible reasons are many, including a pinched or entrapped nerve, a vitamin deficiency or an autoimmune disease.


8. Non-Healing Feet

Three primary medical issues may result in a scratch, cut or other wound on your foot that doesn’t seem to go away. Poor circulation, caused by diseases such as diabetes or peripheral artery disease; edema; or bacterial infection may lie behind this concern.


9. Cracked Heels

When no amount of pedicures or lotion seems to soften your dry, splitting heels, you may want to consider underlying health issues. For instance, neuropathy, psoriasis and certain autoimmune disorders can bring about this bothersome matter.


10. Cramping Feet

They can come on out of nowhere and stop you in your tracks, but could a medical condition be initiating your foot cramps? Common causes include dehydration, mineral deficiencies and poor circulation.


11. Swollen Toe

When not brought on by an injury, a puffed-up, sore or red toe may be a symptom of gout. This painful form of arthritis occurs when too much uric acid builds up in the body.


12. Nail Clubbing

Clubbing of the nails, which is an enlargement of the fingers or toes and downward curving of the nails, can be brought on by several serious conditions. These include lung, heart or liver infections; cancer; or autoimmune diseases.

Wikimedia Commons

This is by no means a definitive list, nor should it take the place of professional medical care. If you have concerns about your health, be sure to see a doctor.

[h/t: Everyday Health]

Disease & Illness, Health, Wellness & Fitness

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About the Author
Tricia Goss
Tricia Goss is a Texas-based writer and editor with nearly two decades of experience. She is passionate about helping readers improve their skills, gain knowledge and attain more happiness in life. When she’s not working, Tricia enjoys traveling with her husband and their dog, especially to visit their five grandchildren.

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