Is Your Body Harboring A Serious Illness? Your Podiatrist May Be The First To Know!

Health & Medical Articles

Since that long ago moment when you first pulled yourself upright and took a few faltering steps, your feet have been hard at work. They have been continually subjected to the daily stress of bearing the weight of your body and the pain that accompanies occasional stubbed toes, cuts, bruises and other injuries. By the time you become an adult, your feet may be showing this strain through the formation of bunions, callouses, arch support issues and many other painful conditions.

Addressing these issues and restoring your feet to health is easiest when you choose to work with a competent, reliable podiatrist. You may, however, be surprised to learn that during an examination of your feet, a podiatrist may also notice early signs of other serious health issues that are occurring elsewhere in the body, including cancer, diabetes and heart conditions. 

Subtle Cancer Symptoms That Present in the Feet

Clubbing is a term that doctors use to describe changes in the appearance of the fingers and toes that can indicate some types of lung cancer. Clubbing of the toes is often noticed by a podiatrist during routine examinations or while treating other foot problems. Clubbing occurs because the cancer causes a marked decrease in vascular pressure, resulting in increased blood flow to the ends of the patient's fingers and toes that cause them to resemble the curved back side of a spoon.

In addition to concerns about clubbed toes, podiatrists that discover dark, vertical lines under a patient's toenails may suspect a type of skin cancer that targets locations such as under the finger and toenails and in the eye or mouth. Known as acral lentiginous melanoma, this type of melanoma is sometimes confused with a nail fungus. In most cases, however, lines under the nail formed by a fungal infection will be lighter in color, and will usually be brown or yellow, while more serious ones caused by melanoma are usually very dark, or black in color. Acral lentiginous melanoma also sometimes presents as a sore on the heel or sole of the foot. 

The Foot Condition That Often Foretells Diabetes

Diabetes is a disease that patients often live with for years before being formally diagnosed and this can lead to circulation issues that damage other parts of the body, including your feet. Reduced blood circulation and nerve damage caused by high blood sugar levels can cause reduced sensitivity in the feet and keep patients from noticing foot sores or blisters that then become ulcerated. If your podiatrist notices a wound that is not healing as it should, nerve damage or any other sign that could indicate poor circulation, they may recommend additional testing to rule out diabetes.  

What Your Foot Can Say About Your Heart

Your feet may be located quite a distance away, but the fact that their health depends upon adequate circulation provided by your heart makes them an important gauge of your overall heart and circulatory health. Your podiatrist may express concern and request that you receive further testing if he notices symptoms such as: 

  • a lack of hair on your toes and lower legs which often indicates arterial issues and a reduced blood flow to the lower extremities
  • tiny hemorrhages underneath the toenails that could indicate a cardiac infection known as endocarditis
  • clubbing of the toes which, in addition to the cancer mentioned earlier, can also be an indicator of heart disease and vascular issues

How You Can Help Your Podiatrist Monitor Your Health

Just as you have a dentist or doctor to attend to basic dental and medical needs, it is also wise to choose an excellent podiatrist before you experience foot health issues and undergo routine, periodic checkups. When given a chance to examine your feet in a healthy state, your podiatrist will be much more likely to notice key changes that could indicate serious health issues and help you seek testing and treatment in a more expedient manner.

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21 May 2015

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