Are you having any of these symptoms?
Cold toes or feet could be the result of poor blood flow. This might be related to circulation problems caused by smoking, high blood pressure, or heart disease. Diabetes which causes nerve damage can also be a cause of cold feet. Hypothyroidism and anemia are also possible culprits. Dr Weiss can evaluate your cold feet and determine if you have an underlying problem or harmlessly cold feet.
If your feet ache after a long day, you might assume your shoes are to blame. Eight out of 10 women say their shoes hurt so it’s a common problem. But if you don’t wear highheels but still have pain, you might have a stress fracture which is a small crack in a bone. A stress fracture can happen from exercise especially high impact sports like basketball and distance running. Also, weakened bones due to osteoporosis increases the risk of a stress fracture.
RED, WHITE, AND BLUE TOES
Raynaud’s disease can cause toes to turn white, then bluish, and then redden again and return to their natural tone. The cause is a sudden narrowing of the arteries, called vasospasms. Stress or changes in temperature can trigger vasospasms, which usually don’t lead to other health concerns. Raynaud’s may also be related to rheumatoid arthritis, Sjögren’s disease, or thyroid problems.
The most common cause of heel pain is a condition called plantar fasciitis which is inflammation where this long ligament attaches to the heel bone. You may experience the sharpest pain when you first get up and put pressure on the foot for the first time that day. Arthritis, excessive exercise, and poorly fitting shoes also can cause heel pain, as can tendonitis. Less common causes of heel pain include a bone spur on the bottom of the heel, a bone infection, tumor, or fracture.
Early signs of a problem are sometimes in how you walk, possibly a change in gait or mild dragging of the feet. This could be caused by losing some sensation in your feet which might be from peripheral nerve damage. About 30% of these cases are linked to diabetes. Nerve damage also can be due to infection, vitamin deficiency, and alcoholism. In many cases, no one knows what caused the nerve damage. Other possible causes for foot dragging include problems with the brain, spinal cord, or muscles.
In clubbing, the shape of the toes (and often the fingers) changes. The nails are more rounded on top and curve downward. Lung disease is the most common underlying cause, but it also can be caused by heart disease, liver and digestive disorders, or certain infections. Sometimes, clubbed toes runs in families without any underlying disease.
Swollen feet is usually temporary and can be caused by standing for too long or a long plane flight, especially if you are pregnant. But feet that stay swollen can be a sign of a serious medical condition. The cause may be poor circulation, a problem with the lymphatic system, or a blood clot. A kidney disorder or under active thyroid can also cause swelling. If you have persistent swelling of your feet, call Dr. Weiss.
A burning sensation in the feet is common among diabetics with peripheral nerve damage. It can also be caused by a vitamin B deficiency, athlete’s foot, chronic kidney disease, poor circulation in the legs and feet (peripheral arterial disease), or hypothyroidism.
SORES THAT DON’T HEAL
Foot sores that will not heal are a major warning sign for diabetes. Diabetes can impair sensation in the feet, circulation, and normal wound healing, so even a blister can become a troublesome wound which often times are susceptible to infection. Every day, diabetics should be careful to wash and dry their feet and then check the feet for any wounds. Slow healing of sores also can be caused by poor circulation from conditions such as peripheral artery disease.
BIG TOE PAIN
Gout is a notorious cause of sudden pain in the big toe joint, along with redness and swelling (seen here). Osteoarthritis is another culprit that causes pain and swelling. If the joint is rigid, it may be hallux rigidus, a complication of arthritis where a bone spur develops. Finally, turf toe is an ailment of athletes, particularly those who play on hard surfaces. It’s caused by an injury to ligaments surrounding the joint.
SMALL TOE PAIN
If you feel like you’re walking on a marble, or if pain burns in the ball of your foot and radiates to the toes, you may have Morton’s neuroma, a thickening of tissue around a nerve, usually between the third and fourth toes. It is eight to 10 times more common in women than in men. It is caused by injury or too much pressure on the toes.
Itchy, scaly skin may be athlete’s foot, a common fungal infection. A reaction to chemicals or skin care products called contact dermatitis can cause itching, too, along with redness and dry patches. If the skin on itchy feet is thick and pimple-like, it may be psoriasis, an over-reaction of the immune system. Medicated creams can relieve the symptoms.
This foot deformity can be caused by shoes that are tight and pinch your toes or by a disease that damages nerves, such as diabetes, alcoholism, or other neurological disorder. Your toes will be bent upward as they extend from the ball of the foot, then downward from the middle joint, resembling a claw. They may respond to stretching and exercises of the toes or you may need special shoes or even surgery.
A sudden, sharp pain in the foot is the hallmark of a muscle spasm or cramp, which can last many minutes. Overwork and muscle fatigue are common causes. Other causes include poor circulation, dehydration, or imbalances in potassium, magnesium, calcium, or vitamin D levels in the body. The changing hormone levels of pregnancy or thyroid disorders may play a role. If spasms are frequent or severe, see a doctor. Strengthening exercises can help with muscle fatigue.
DARK SPOTS ON FEET
We associate skin cancer with the sun, so we’re not as likely to check our feet for unusual spots. However, a melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer, can develop in areas that are not regularly exposed to the sun. Melanoma can even appear beneath the nail, where it might look like a black spot.
Your toenails tell a lot about your overall health. A fungal infection often causes thickened yellow toenails. Thick, yellow nails also can be a sign of an underlying disease, including lymphedema (swelling related to the lymphatic system), lung problems, psoriasis, or rheumatoid arthritis. But most often, yellow toenails are just toenail fungal infections and can often be cleared with nail laser treatment. Talk to Dr. Weiss about simple and painless treatment of nail fungus.
Sometimes an injury to the nail or frequent exposure to petroleum based solvents can create a concave, spoon-like shape. However, iron deficiency also can cause this unusual shape.
Injury to the nail or illness anywhere in the body can cause white areas in the nails. If part or all of a nail separates from the nail bed (shown here), it can appear white and may be due to an injury, nail infection, or psoriasis. If the nail is intact and most of it is white, it can sometimes be a sign of a more serious condition including liver disease, congestive heart failure, or kidney disease. Talk with your health care team about any concerns.
PITTING OF TOENAILS
Pitting, or punctured looking depressions in the surface of the nail, is caused by a disruption in the growth of the nail at the nail plate. It affects as many as half of people with psoriasis.