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Few parts of the body take the kind of sustained punishment as our feet. Whether you cram them into uncomfortable shoes that either don’t fit or offer too little arch support or you simply have a habit of not paying attention when walking around barefoot, your feet hold up remarkably well considering the abuse placed on them daily.

Besides providing you with the most reliable form of transportation, your feet can also tell you a great deal about your overall health if you know what the signs mean. To help you determine what your feet might be trying to say, here’s what some common foot ailments can imply about your overall health.

Cold Feet

If your feet are always freezing regardless of the temperature, you may be suffering from poor blood flow, a circulatory condition that could be linked to heart disease, high blood pressure, or smoking. Nerve damage caused by uncontrolled diabetes can also cause your feet to feel cold even if warm. Other possibilities of chronically cold feet include hypothyroidism and anemia. Talk with your doctor about potential underlying problems behind your cold feet.

Foot Pain

If your feet throb after a long day, you might just be tempted to blame your shoes. After all, surveys have shown that eight out of 10 women admit to consciously wearing shoes that make their feet hurt. However, pain that doesn’t come from wearing six-inch heels or uncomfortable wingtips may originate from a stress fracture in your foot. Due to the small crack it causes, you could suffer a stress fracture in a foot bone without immediately realizing you have even sustained an injury. Whether from engaging in high impact aerobics or playing a contact sport, a stress fracture can linger for weeks before you finally notice a persistent foot pain the injury causes.

Multicolored Toes

A condition known as Raynaud’s disease can result in your toes turning white, then bluish, and finally red before returning to their natural color. Vasospasms, a sudden narrowing of the arteries, is the reason why your toes change color, and can be brought on by a change in temperature or stress. Raynaud’s itself is usually related to a thyroid problem, Sjogren’s disease, or rheumatoid arthritis.

Heal Pain

The majority of heal pain is caused by plantar fasciitis, which causes inflammation to occur where the ligament attaches to the heel bone. Often the pain caused by the condition is the most intense during the early morning shortly after you start moving around and begin applying pressure to the foot. Poorly fitting shoes, high impact aerobic exercise, and arthritis can also cause heel pain, so can tendonitis.

Shuffling Your Feet

Occasionally one of the initial sign of a problem is a change in how you walk. If you suddenly start dragging your feet or begin walking with a wider gait, you may be experiencing a loss of sensation in your feet caused by peripheral nerve damage. While approximately 30 percent of all cases of this condition are linked to diabetes, the condition may also be linked to alcoholism, a vitamin deficiency, or infection. However, in many cases doctors do not know what has caused the nerve damage.

Timothy Lemke is a freelance health writer. To read more of his work, visit the website of Dr. Dale Nelson, a Vancouver dentist.


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