Your feet can reveal a lot about your overall health or alert you of underlying medical conditions. In this blog, we will look at ten foot symptoms that may indicate a serious health problem.
- White, Blue, or Red Toes: When exposed to cold, do your toes turn different colors (white, then blue, and then red)? This could indicate Raynaud’s Phenomenon. The color change is caused by a sudden contraction of the arteries—known as vasospasm skin—and can be linked to thyroid disease, Rheumatoid Arthritis, or Sjögren’s syndrome.
- Balding Toes: A loss of hair on your feet could indicate peripheral arterial disease (peripheral vascular disease.) Peripheral arterial disease refers to a blood vessel constriction in the lower limb arteries that can also lead to cardiovascular disease.
- Cold Feet: Cold feet may also be a sign of peripheral arterial disease. Diabetic neuropathy (diabetic nerve damage) can also cause your feet to get cold. Under-active thyroid (hypothyroidism) may also be a probable cause.
- Foot Ulcers: If you have a wound on your foot that is not healing, it may indicate that you are at risk for diabetes. About 15% of diabetics develop a foot ulcer, and 14-24% of those require amputation due to a life-threatening infection. Insulin users are at a higher risk of developing a foot ulcer.
- Thick, Yellow Toenails: You may have a fungal infection (mycosis) if one or more of your toes start to swell, change color, or separate from the skin. Patients with autoimmune disorders who use immunosuppressants are more likely to develop fungal infections. (Danielly Corrêa-Moreira in Journal of Immunopathology) Other drugs—such as corticosteroids—can also raise the risk of a fungal infection.
- Swollen Big Toe: If your big toe swells, you may have gout (gouty arthritis). In fact, a swollen and sore big toe is often the earliest sign of gout. (The Arthritis Foundation)
- Numbness: A persistent, uncomfortable tingling or prickling sensation in your foot could indicate peripheral neuropathy—nerve damage that develops in the foot and progresses up the legs. Diabetics are at higher risk of developing peripheral neuropathy.
- Pitted Toenails: Pitted toenails—or toenails with indentations or depressions—may indicate nail psoriasis. Discoloration, crumbling, loosening, thickening or horizontal lines in the nails are also telltale signs of nail psoriasis.
- Stiff or Sore Joints: Stiff or sore toe joints could be indicative of osteoarthritis (degenerative joint disease). Osteoarthritis often develops in the small joints of the hands and feet, causing pain during movement and joint tenderness.
- Inability to Lift the Front Part of Your Foot: Foot drop is the inability to lift the front part of the foot, which is caused by paralysis or weakness of the muscles that lift the foot. This problem can be a symptom of several underlying health conditions, including neurodegenerative diseases, multiple sclerosis, stroke (a cerebrovascular accident), cerebral palsy, Lou Gehrig’s disease (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), or other neuromuscular disorders.
If you experience any of the symptoms above, you should consider a visit to your podiatrist.