“Slow feet, quick feet, trick feet, sick feet… oh, how many feet you meet!”
– Dr. Seuss
There are a lot of tired feet out there after the Wineglass Marathon, which took place this past weekend. Often times, when we think about tired or sore feet, we think about what type of activity was involved, like running a marathon or standing for long periods of time, and what type of shoes were worn, like old sneakers or high heels.
However, our feet can also tell us a lot about other problems in the body, like diabetes, blood clots, or nerve irritation. Just as the old proverb claims that the eyes are the windows to the soul, the feet can be very helpful windows to the overall health of the body.
If a patient complains of a burning sensation in their feet, this could be an indication of a neuropathy (or nerve damage) caused by diabetes. Sometimes this can be the first indication that the person has diabetes, and then we look at their family history and blood work to confirm this.
If someone tells me that their feet hurt while walking but then their feet stop hurting when they sit down, this could signal that there is a blood circulation problem or even a blockage in the arteries of the leg. In addition, a person’s pulse can be detected on their feet, as well as under their jaw or at their wrist. So, if there is no pulse perceived on their feet, this can also signal a blockage.
If a person has back pain or numbness in their big toe (with no bunion or fracture), this can indicate irritation of the sciatic nerve, which is the longest single nerve in the body, extending from the lower back down to the foot.
A hot, swollen toe can mean gout; a blister or sore that doesn’t hurt can mean nerve damage; inflamed joints of the toes can mean rheumatoid arthritis – it’s pretty clear that the feet can tell us a lot more than simply what shoes we wear.
Of course, wearing the wrong shoes can certainly lead to a host of problems like stress fractures, shin splints, a neuroma (abnormal nerve growth) between the 3rd and 4th toes (from wearing high heels), inflammation, or heel pain. So take care of your feet and pay attention to them: they are the foundation of the body.
Oh, and congratulations to all of you half and full Wineglass Marathon runners! You should be very proud of those sore feet of yours this week.
If you’d like more information, or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Beth Dollinger, click here to find her contact information listed in our provider directory.