As a podiatrist, I have observed that people tend to ignore or neglect their feet. We shove them into socks and shoes and for most of the day they remain out of sight and out of mind. Foot problems that are ignored (which usually are until they become too painful or ugly) can have dire consequences. Foot conditions that go untreated can lead to weight gain due to lack of movement because of pain. They can also cause imbalance and lead to falls and broken bones.
Each of your feet has 26 bones, 33 joints, and more than 100 tendons, muscles, and ligaments. There are several nerves and blood vessels that branch from the heart, spine, and brain. These structures all connect in your feet. Your feet are the sites of several neuromuscular junctions. Where the nerves that begin in the brain and spine affect the muscles in your feet. If these nerves and muscles are not functioning appropriately, it can lead to certain debilitating neuromuscular diseases.
Dr. Lady DeJesus, a Foot and Ankle Surgeon in Astoria, NY had such a case; "A 32 year old male patient presented to my office with trouble running since a child. He complained of a limp as well since a child. He also complained of high arches and trouble flexing his right foot up, especially during his job because he was a cab driver. He related no previous medical problems and never used braces or other devices as a child. He had weakness in his right leg, foot drop and severely high arches. I wanted to rule out Charcot Marie Tooth. After referring him to a neurologist it was confirmed as a diagnosis of CMT." This patient was given prescription braces and physical therapy.
Careful evaluation of your feet by a qualified podiatrist can help detect diseases like diabetes, arthritis and nutritional deficiencies like B12 deficiency which may cause numbness and tingling in your feet.
Dr. DeJesus describes another patient she saw in her office. This patient was a middle aged female with thickened toenails, dry cracked skin of her heels, and numbness and tingling in both feet. Her patient related no medical conditions. After examining her and finding decreased sensation, fungal toenails and non-healing fissures or deep cracks in her heals, she referred her to a primary care physician and performed bloodwork. The patient was then diagnosed with severe diabetes and peripheral neuropathy.
"A patient had pitting and discolored toenails. They thought it was fungus when it actually was psoriasis," said Dr. Tiffany DeLutis a Podiatrist and foot surgeon in St. Louis, Missouri. The patient was then treated with oral and topical medications.
Take off your shoes and take a close look at your feet! I promise you will be OK. Check the temperature and the color of your skin. Look between your toes and at the bottom of your heals for any scaly, irritated skin or open wounds. Do your feet smell bad or are they overly sweaty? Maybe you need to make sure you wash your feet even between your toes with soap and water. Treat your feet as you would any other part of your body. Would you forget to wash your underarms? I would hope not! Are your feet and or legs swollen? Are you getting foot or leg cramps? You may have a nutritional deficiency or other medical condition. There are several more diseases and medical conditions that may be diagnosed after a foot examination.
Do not ignore your feet. Make a point to care for your feet daily and if there is anything out of the ordinary in regards to pain, swelling, new lesions or other issues contact your local podiatrist for a consultation, it may just save your life!
Cheers to Your Health!