Danville Express

- June 1, 2007

Be aware of your feet

Foot problems may indicate other ailments

The average person walks the equivalent of five times around the earth in a lifetime, according to the California Podiatric Medical Association. Wow! That stat is enough to start one's feet aching.

"Taking care of your feet is always important," said CPMA president Dr. Ernest J. Hook, "particularly as they spend much of their time encased in hot shoes and walking on hard surfaces.

"Basic hygiene and nail cutting may be all that is needed to keep your feet in good health but when apparently healthy feet start experiencing problems, it is best to seek professional help," he continued.

He also said feet give an overall idea of a patient's general health and podiatrists are frequently the first to diagnose certain ailments. The following are indications:

* Hair loss on toes: Poor circulation.

* Blue thread veins with very white skin: Common in long-term smokers. Could be a sign of vascular disease and even heart disease.

* Swollen feet: Common in people with kidney or heart disease.

* One foot starts sudden swelling: Could indicate blockage of a lymph node or deep-vein thrombosis. Seek immediate help.

* Swollen joints: Might indicate rheumatoid or osteoarthritis.

* Very dry, cracked heels: Linked to thyroid problems if accompanied by weight fluctuations.

* Toenails discoloring: Green (bacterial infections); black or brown (usually just bruising, but if it persists check for cancerous melanomas under toenail); white (when coupled with separation of nail from toe could indicate psoriasis, candida infections, anemia or lung cancer)

* Corns and blisters: May be sign of diabetes because sufferers get numb toes and don't realize their shoes are too tight.

Hook also noted it is important that those with diabetes, arthritis and circulatory problems see a podiatrist at least once a year.


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