In addition to carrying us from one place to the other and supporting the weight of the body, the feet can also function as a small ‘snitch’ of what is happening in other parts of our body; A shoe worn on one side, a yellowish nail, a pair of deformed toes, unbearable pain in the heel as soon as we get up, ulcers or persistent itching can be behind numerous diseases that are not always directly related to a problem in the heel. the lower extremities.
«There is increasing social awareness about the importance of taking care of foot health and the impact it has on our general well-being, although there is still a long way to go. A poorly healed blister in a person with diabetes, for example, can end in an amputation,” highlights Pilar Nieto, president of the Official College of Podiatrists of the Valencian Community (ICOPCV).
Another example of a symptom that can mask a pathology that goes beyond a disease exclusive to the lower extremities is heel pain, which can be the cause of a spur or plantar fasciitis, caused by inflammation of the tendon plate. that runs through the entire sole of the foot. «It is a very common injury in runners, but also in people who are overweight or with some anatomical alteration, such as a foot with a high arch or too flat. The use of inappropriate footwear may also be behind this pathology,” explains Dr. Raúl Torre, a traumatologist specialized in foot and ankle at the San Juan de Dios hospital in Biscay.
In fact, abusing sneakers with a sturdy rubber toe and platform can also cause retrokinia, a type of ingrown toenail that is very common among adolescents due to “the use and abuse” of this type of footwear. «Visually what is observed is that the birth is red or inflamed and sometimes the affected area oozes fluid. Although in most cases this nail alteration is caused by repeated microtrauma in the matrix area, it is important to make a differential diagnosis with a fungal or candida infection or some tumors that can also present with inflammation. “chronicity of the edge of the nail,” says the Valencian podiatrist.
Signs of aging
The appearance and color of the nails can not only hide an infection (yellowish, grayish tone…) but also reveal our age. «Those on the hands become thinner and weaker as the years go by, while the opposite happens with those on the feet: they ‘get fatter’ and lose their characteristic pearly color. Sometimes they are also accompanied by lacerations or notches at the ends, but it is not of major importance. It is part of the signs of aging and can be considered the ‘wrinkles’ of the nails,” explains dermatologist Lourdes Navarro. A curiosity: the ones on the hands take between 6 and 8 months to be completely replaced. However, toenails can take more than a year.
One of the most serious diseases related to the lower extremities is the diabetic foot. Although it only affects people with diabetes, “it is a serious pathology if there is not good follow-up,” specialists agree. The data is incontestable: 4 out of every 10 people affected by this pathology have to undergo an amputation. “That is why it is very important for people with diabetes to keep strict control of their pathology and risk factors, in addition to maintaining very thorough hygiene and care of their feet,” adds Pilar Nieto. In any case, experts advise the general population to always be attentive to any change in the color of the nails or the feel of the skin.
10 signs that indicate health problems
Alterations in nail color:
“Yellowish tones may be a symptom of a fungal or bacterial infection,” warns the Valencian College of Podiatrists.
Appearance of roughness on the nails:
can also hide an infection
This symptom is usually related to cases of plantar fasciitis or spurs.
Lack of sensitivity:
«It is very common in people with diabetes and systemic or neurological problems. In these cases, it is especially important to carry out periodic check-ups at the podiatrist because this lack of sensitivity often prevents the patient from detecting the appearance of ulcers. And if they are not treated in time they can end in amputation,” experts warn.
Irregular shoe wear:
It may indicate an “imbalance in gait that affects more parts of the musculoskeletal system.”
Pain when walking:
Podiatrists point out that in the case of older people, this symptom can be disabling and even seriously impair their general health. “Pain of this type can be due to many causes: chilblains, plantar warts, papillomas, calluses, ‘chicken eyes’…”, they list.
Children who fall very frequently:
“When this happens in an exaggerated way after the age of 3 or 4, it is necessary to carry out a review because it could be the cause of flat feet, for example.”
Deformations in the fingers:
It is necessary to determine the cause as soon as possible to “avoid future complications.”
If there is persistent itching or redness on the skin of the feet, “we could be suffering from a fungal infection or another type of pathogen, which can be quite contagious and require prompt treatment.”
Pain in the lower back, hips or legs:
“Many times the causes of this type of discomfort in this area are due to problems with the footprint,” podiatrists clarify.