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When people talk about getting sick, most people think of respiratory or gastrointestinal problems — the cold, the flu, the unfortunate consequences of a bad meal, etc.
But your feet can get sick, too!
While in some cases illnesses can show up anywhere in the body, there are a number that only occur in feet, tend to strike the feet before spreading elsewhere, or affect feet in ways that produce unique challenges.
As you learn about these diseases of the foot, you might realize you (or a loved one) have one. If so, we are here for you. Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions or would like to schedule an appointment.
Systemic problems that affect your feet
Because your feet are the farthest possible points from your heart, lungs, and brain – and they also must contend with the pressures of supporting your entire body – they are often the first place you can notice system-wide nervous or vascular conditions, such as:
- Peripheral neuropathy. In this condition, nerves slowly decay due to damage or lack of nutrition. Lower legs (and potentially your hands) are the first areas where symptoms become present, but in time the burning, tingling pain or even outright numbness can spread throughout the body without treatment. This is commonly seen in tandem with diabetes (more than half of diabetic individuals have neuropathy).
- Peripheral vascular disease (PVD). This disease is a slowing of circulation in the extremities (often caused by a buildup of plaque in blood vessels). Symptoms aren’t always present but, when they are, can include pain, cramping, swelling, and slow-healing ulcers. A major red flag is claudication – muscle pain or cramping that occurs while walking or exercising (and goes away with rest).NOTE: If plaque builds up in lower body blood vessels, there’s a good chance it’s forming elsewhere, such as your heart and brain. Accordingly, catching and treating PVD early can reduce your risk for heart attack or stroke.
- Rheumatoid arthritis (RA). This form of arthritis is an inflammatory disease where your immune system attacks your own body tissues. RA typically affects joints that have a lot of motion (synovial joints), such as the ones in your toes and feet (which are often first to be damaged). There are different arthritic conditions that mimic RA, so proper diagnosis is essential.