Feet have a pretty tough job to do. But just because feet are tough, doesn’t mean they’re invincible. Yet, many people will ignore persistent foot pain or changes in the foot’s appearance and function for too long. Ignoring early warning signs of foot problems can leave you at risk for more serious foot conditions. Here are several foot symptoms that could spell the start of a more serious problem.
Toenail discolouration: Discolouration of your toenails could be a sign of a fungal nail infection, which often begins as a yellow or dark spot under the nail. If left untreated, the infection can spread to surrounding toes. If you have diabetes, an unchecked fungal nail infection could become extreme enough to lead to foot amputation.
Skin discolouration: Many conditions can cause discolouration of the feet. One, known as Raynaud’s disease, is characterized by a sequence of colour changes in the skin as a response to colour stress.
Heel Pain: Heel pain caused by stepping on a hard object like a rock will usually go away on its own with a bit of rest. But when heel pain doesn’t subside, it could be a sign of a more serious foot condition like plantar fasciitis or heel spurs. Left untreated, heel pain can lead to difficulty in walking that may ultimately require complicated, lengthy, or costly therapy.
Cold feet: Chronically cold feet and toes could be a sign of poor blood circulation. Smoking and smoking-related conditions like COPD can often affect the circulation of blood throughout the body. Peripheral arterial disease (PAD) and many forms of heart disease can restrict arteries and reduce blood flow as well. Bodily extremities like the feet are particularly susceptible to poor circulation, which may make feet feel cold or numb.
Itchy feet: The most common culprit of itchy feet is a fungal infection like athlete’s foot. In some cases, itchy feet may result from an allergic reaction to skin creams or from an immune condition like psoriasis.
Big toe pain: Pain focused around the tip and corner of your toenail, could be a sign of an ingrown toenail. Sudden, severe pain in the big toe joint (especially at night) could be caused by a form of arthritis called gout. Rheumatoid arthritis could be another explanation for toe pain, as early symptoms tend to affect toe and finger joints.
Foot swelling: Often, foot swelling comes from standing for an extended period of time, wearing restrictive footwear or a minor injury like a sprained ankle. However, foot swelling that lasts for more than a couple of days could be caused by fluid buildup due to heart failure or kidney disease. Swelling may also result from inflammation from rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis.
White nails: White discoloration of the nails doesn’t necessarily point to a health issue. Leukonychia (sometimes called a “milk spot”) is a medical term for common white blotches that start around the base of the nail and move as the nail grows. Contrary to popular belief, these marks are not a sign of a vitamin deficiency and are generally considered harmless. A white mark at the tip of your nail, however, may be more serious.
If you ignore what your feet are trying to tell you, you could up facing some pretty serious consequences so pay close attention to your feet.