Your feet contain a quarter of your body’s bones; 66 joints; 200 tendons, muscles and ligaments; ignoring foot problems can quickly affect the rest of the body in a variety of ways. Additionally, problems affecting your entire body such as certain diseases or infections may first present in your feet.
Here are 10 red-flags your feet may send you and what to do if you notice any of these:
- Indentations in your toenail: This could be a sign of anemia. Schedule an appointment with your doctor for a blood test
- Frequent foot cramps: Could signal calcium deficiencies in your diet. Try doing some foot stretches and add calcium-rich products like milk into your diet.
- A foot sore that won’t heal: Ulcers are a hallmark symptom of advanced diabetes. See your doctor immediately (and perform daily foot checks to keep wounds from progressing to this dangerous point.)
- Thick yellow toenails: This is a sign of a fungal infection beneath the nails. See your podiatrist as prescription medications will stop the problem quicker than OTC creams.
- Your big toe looks red and enormous: You probably have gout (a form of arthritis caused by a buildup of uric acid in the blood.) Plan on changing your diet with the aid of your physician and seek pain-relief from your doc as well.
- Numb feet: Usually a sign of peripheral neuropathy, a typical symptom of diabetes. This can’t be reversed, but your podiatrist can help you manage the discomfort of the condition and minimize impact on your foot health.
- Dry, flaky skin, especially between your toes: This could be the beginning of an athlete’s foot infection. See your doctor for a prescription before it progresses too far.
- Feet that hurt when you walk: You may have an undiagnosed stress fracture; in older individuals, an underlying cause like osteoperia (weakening of bone density) could be to blame. Get an x-ray and talk to your doctor about your bone health.
- Shooting pains in your heels: Most likely plantar fasciitis, an inflammation of the connective tissue that runs along the bottom of your feet. See your podiatrist for treatment options.
- Stinky feet: Unlike other signs, this one isn’t a cause for worry. Your feet may just have more active sweat glands; wash them carefully with antibacterial soap and rub cornstarch or antiperspirant into your soles before putting on socks and shoes in the morning.