We all know there are times when you can ignore a twinge in your foot, but there are also moments when you notice something strange that should be seen immediately by your Houston podiatrist. Read on to learn about six of those shouldn’t-be-ignored indicators.
Dangeous Foot Symptoms That Can't Be Ignored
We know it can be tempting to walk off foot pain. To hope that ignoring the problem means it will go away. But I'm here to tell you: that just doesn't work. Especially if you've noticed one of these six symptoms:
- Foot cramping and spasms: This symptom could indicate nerve compression in your feet and/or an inadequate blood supply to the feet. While an occasional foot cramp should not be a cause for concern, if the problem occurs regularly, make an appointment with your doctor.
- Heel pain: If you feel a sharp pain in your heels, especially when you first wake up in the morning, you may have plantar fasciitis, an inflammation of the plantar fasciia (connective tissue at the heel) which is better treated sooner rather than later. Your podiatrist can help you manage the pain and advise lifestyle changes such as better shoe choices that can help correct the issue.
- Swollen feet: Unless you can pinpoint the reason why your feet have swelled up (i.e. you’re pregnant or just got off a long-flight) swollen feet should be a major red flag, as they can indicate a problem with your lymphatic system, a blood clot or just poor circulation. Any of these problems, if left untreated, can make it harder for wounds to heal and, especially if you are diabetic, can contribute to the development of dangerous ulcers. *Scroll down to the end of this post if you want to learn about one non-emergency that could make your feet swell. (Hint: it's related to running.)
- Cold feet: If your feet are always cold, it could be a sign that you have peripheral neuropathy (loss of blood flow to the appendages), especially if you are diabetic. Seeing a doctor immediately could help stop or even reverse the progression of this condition.
- Dips in your toenails: Most toenails are raised in the middle; if yours have an inwardly curving, spoon-like shape, this could be an indication that you have anemia (an insufficient iron supply in your blood.)
- Yellow toenails: A thick, yellow toenail isn’t just unattractive; it’s probably got a fungal infection. The sooner you see your doctor, the sooner you can begin to treat the problem and even receive temporary aesthetic fixes so you don’t have to be embarrassed to show off your nails.
Why Runner's Feet Start Swelling
So, I mentioned that swollen feet should send you to the doctor, but if you're a runner, that may not be necessary. That's because many runners' feet will stop swelling as soon as their run ends, their shoes loosen up or both.
Why? Often, feet swell because of additional blood flow. And your blood flow increases as you run because your limbs need more oxygen to support your efforts. So, the extra blood can increase your blood flow, making sneakers feel tight. As a result, loosening your laces could make you comfortable, and your feet should return to normal at the end of your workout. If this doesn't happen on its own, try soaking those feet with some epsom salts and giving them a nice rub down.
Of course, other times, the impact of your workout could be straining the valves in your veins. This could impede your blood flow, and allow blood to pool in your feet, causing them to swell. If this is your problem, you'll need more than a loose shoe; you'll need to address your vein health with a specialist.
Still haven't discovered the cause of your swollen runner's feet? It could be an undetected injury: an ankle sprain, stress fracture or even tendinitis could all cause your feet to swell up. And don't think that your ability to keep running means this isn't your problem. Many people can push through the pain for runs. But doing so makes everything much, much worse.
So, now we've broken down why running might make your feet swell. And you know that the cause could be a normal result of an intense workout...but it could also be a sign of a major problem.
And do you know where we now have to circle back? If you experience any of the six symptoms I reviewed, go see a podiatrist. Avoiding this outcome is just a recipe for disaster. In fact, any time you are experiencing foot pain, either from an injury or for no apparent reason, schedule an appointment with Dr. Andrew Schneider as soon as possible so you can start feeling better quickly.