Caring For Your Feet
Did you know that your feet can tell you about your overall health? Common sensations could be an underlying health condition and it is important to be aware of them.
Potential warning signs include:
Cold feet and toes: this could be a warning sign of a vascular disorder, peripheral artery disorder (PAD) or a circulatory problem.
Burning pain: this could be a warning sign of nerve damage in the legs (neuropathy) or PAD.
Sudden swollen and painful big toe or foot: this could be a warning sign of neuropathic arthropathy, arthritis, venous insufficiency, renal disease, congestive heart failure or gout.
Discolored or deformed toenails: this could be a warning sign of nail fungus, ingrown toenails, overuse injury, psoriasis, anemia, or melanoma.
An unhealing sore or ulcer: this could be a warning sign of poor circulation caused by diabetes, peripheral neuropathy, or skin cancer.
Dark line or bruise under toenail: this could be a warning sign of melanoma or bleeding under the nail.
Weight-bearing pain in the foot with no trauma: this could be a warning sign of a stress fracture, plantar fasciitis, tendinitis, arthritis or diabetic arthropathy.
Numbness or tingling in feet and toes: this could be a warning sign of peripheral neuropathy, b12 deficiency, spinal stenosis, other neurological conditions, or diabetes.
How to care for your feet
With this knowledge that foot health can tell you about your overall health, it is important to take care of your feet each day. Check out these tips below!
- Check your feet daily. Look for blisters, cuts, and scratches. Use a long-handled mirror or place a mirror on the floor to see the bottom of your feet. Always check between your toes.
- Keep your feet clean. Wash daily and dry carefully – especially between the toes.
- Moisturize your feet. Apply moisturizer as recommended by your physician, but never apply it between toes as that can lead to a fungal infection.
- Do not walk barefoot. That includes walking on sandy beaches and pool/patio areas.
- Wear properly fitted shoes. Shoes should be comfortable when purchased. Do not wear narrow, pointed toe or high-heeled shoes.
- Inspect the inside of your shoes daily. Check for sharp objects, tears, or rough areas on the inside of the shoe.
- Do not wear shoes without socks or stockings. Wear clean, properly fitted socks. Moisture-wicking or diabetic socks are recommended.
- Trim your toenails regularly and always cut your nails straight across.
- Avoid extreme temperatures. Test the water temperature with your hand or elbow prior to bathing. Do not soak your feet in hot water or apply a hot water bottle. If your feet feel cold at night, wear socks.
- Do not use over-the-counter remedies for corns (thickened skin on the top or side of a toe). See a podiatrist to have these evaluated.
- Avoid crossing your legs. This causes pressure on the nerves and blood vessels, resulting in less blood flow to your feet.
When to seek medical attention
If you find you are experiencing any food related issues or any of these warning signs mentioned above, please call your primary care physician for an appointment to have your feet checked.
In addition to visiting your primary care physician, if you have a wound that won’t heal, please visit ECHN’s Center for Wound Healing and Hyperbaric Medicine. At the Center, we can utilize Hyperbaric Oxygen (HBO) Therapy to treat foot ulcers and non-healing wounds. HBO is a treatment in which the patient breathes 100% pure oxygen while inside a pressurized chamber. This dose of oxygen helps blood carry more oxygen to the organs and tissues to promote wound healing and it activates the white blood cells to fight infection. Call the Center for Wound Healing at 860.533.2903 to learn more.