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December 2, 2021

Let your feet do the talking

The surprising things your feet can tell you about your overall health. 

Did you know that many symptoms indicating a problem with your health materialize in your feet? It’s true. Conditions as seemingly unrelated to your feet such as high blood pressure, hypothyroidism and even something called Raynaud’s disease, may first be detected by discomfort felt from your toes up.

Here’s a short list of things to watch for–and call your doctor about–if you are experiencing something unusual with your feet. 

Chilly dogs

Cold feet can be a sign of a few things, including poor blood flow, often caused by smoking, high blood pressure, or heart disease. It can also be a symptom of diabetes, hypothyroidism (lack of the thyroid hormone) and anemia. Or you might just need warmer socks!

Hot dogs

Burning sensations in your feet are common among diabetics who’ve suffered peripheral nerve damage, but it can also be a sign of vitamin B deficiency, chronic kidney disease, poor circulation in the legs and feet or hypothyroidism.

Barking dogs

The onset of unusual pain may come from a stress fracture, a small crack in a bone, which can be caused by intense exercise. Stress fractures, however, can also indicate weakened bones caused by osteoporosis.

Patriotic toes

If your toes are turning red, white and blue, something may not be Yankee Doodle Dandy. It’s time to get checked out. Raynaud’s disease can cause toes alternate from white to bluish to red and back to their natural color. It’s caused by “vasospasms” or the sudden narrowing of the arteries–a common symptom of the disease, which is often linked to rheumatoid arthritis, Sjögren’s disease, or thyroid problems.

Dragging your feet (and not because you’re tired)

Foot dragging can mean a few things. It’s sometimes caused by the slow loss of normal sensation in your feet, indicating peripheral nerve damage brought on by diabetes, infection, vitamin deficiency or alcoholism. 

Club toes

No, we don’t mean the dancing kind. Club toes refer to nails becoming more rounded on top and curving downward, most often caused by lung disease but also by heart disease, liver and digestive disorders, or certain infections. 

Swole feet

If they swell and stay swollen, it could mean poor circulation, a problem with the lymphatic system, or even a blood clot. Persistent swelling should be checked out by a physician sooner rather than later.

Ouch! My big toe.

Gout–a form of arthritis–is a common culprit of big toe pain. It can also signal osteoarthritis. Or maybe it’s just a case of turf toe if you’ve been hitting your training extra hard.  

Havin’ spasms

It may just be muscle strain or fatigue, but other causes include poor circulation, dehydration, or deficiencies in potassium, magnesium, calcium, or vitamin D. See a doctor if spasms are severe or persistent. 

Eew! They’re yellow.

Fungal infection? Probably. But yellow toenails are also a sign of lymphedema (swelling related to the lymphatic system), lung problems, psoriasis or rheumatoid arthritis.

Ok, admit it. You just took your shoes off to have a look. Good for you. Because the fact is, foot pain and discolorations should not be ignored. If you’re experiencing any of the above, talk to your doctor or see a podiatrist.   


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