Foot Care

The Feet Don't Lie - Top 10 Things Feet Can Say About Health

Many people don’t visit a podiatrist unless they have a foot problem, but there are several conditions and health signs that have to do with your feet that could also mean a lot more about your overall health. Just one foot exam can clue you in to various health concerns hat may have been otherwise overlooked.

Here, according to Phil Vasylli, a podistrist and inventor of Vionic with Orthaheel Technology™, are some of the most common problems and how to go about treating them:

1) Brittle toenails

What could be wrong: Vitamin deficiency

Brittle toenails can signify a lack of vitamin A and D, since vitamin D, along with calcium and magnesium, is the foundation for healthy nails. Lack of essential fatty acids can also cause inflammatory conditions around the nails, which in turn render nails weak and brittle. Some medical conditions responsible for causing nails to become weak and brittle also include Raynaud’s disease, hypothyroidism, lung conditions, tuberculosis, and Sjogren’s syndrome.

2) Disappearing hair on toes

What could be wrong: Poor circulation

Hair follicles don’t have enough circulation to remain intact so they slough off. Often it’s accompanied by a cool foot temperature. Poor circulation can also be heart related; a weak heart-pumping mechanism can cause circulatory issues.

What to do: Patients must see a vascular surgeon for evaluation.

3) Burning feet

What could be wrong: Neuropathy (numbness)

Neuropathy is a general term meaning nerve dysfunction. Causes include diabetes, vitamin deficiency, and side effects from medications. The first step is to determine the cause of the neuropathy. If no cause can be identified, this is called idiopathic peripheral neuropathy. Medications can be prescribed to decrease neuropathic pain and burning sensation.

4) Numbness

What could be wrong: Diabetes

Podiatrists perform various types of nerve testing to check a patient’s sharp and dull sensations. People with decreased sensation have a peripheral neuropathy, which may signal diabetes because high sugar impacts the nerves so they don’t function well. If you have neuropathy but good blood sugar checks levels, you may have a misaligned position of the foot where when weight is placed on the foot, it collapses. A nerve that runs along the side of the foot becomes stretched and eventually compressed and leads to losing nerve sensation there.

What to do: Custom orthotics, little inserts in shoes, helps correct the alignment.

5) Toes that tip up

What could be wrong: Lung, heart or gastrointestinal issues

It can be one toe or multiple and is usually a red flag for a pulmonary or lung disease, even lung cancer. It can also be a gastro issue, like Crohn’s disease or heart disease.

What to do: A primary care doctor needs to zero in on what’s going on with additional testing.

6) Shooting pain in your heel