Posts for tag: peripheral artery disease
Ok so I'm exaggerating, but the health of your feet is often a good indicator of your overall health so when something seems wrong with your feet, it may have started elsewhere. Let’s look at a few signs our feet may tell us and what they may mean for our overall health:
- Skin and nails
Many people have dry feet and we just put up with it as a side effect of our feet being feet, but dryness in not normal. If you have dry feet no matter how much you moisturize, have your thyroid checked. A misbehaving thyroid can cause extreme skin dryness and even cracking of the toenails. Check your nails too. Do you see small pits or curves in your nails? These could be signs of psoriasis, anemia, or even lupus. But don’t jump to conclusions, only a podiatrist or other physician can definitively diagnose these conditions.
Do you have bald toes? Are your feet cold all of the time? These could be indications of poor circulation. Most people know when they have a serious vascular disease (PAD, arteriosclerosis, etc), but if you once had hairy toes and now they are smooth, this could indicate that your circulation is declining. Cold feet can also be another indicator of a pesky thyroid.
Did you wake up with a bright red, hot, and painful big toe? That would be gout, an inflammatory disease that’s a cousin to arthritis. How about sudden clubbing – swelling of the digits creating a ‘rounded’ look to feet and toes? This could indicate a serious lung infection, intestinal disease (like Crohns), or even lung cancer. Watch the tips of your toes specifically and if you see swelling that just won’t go away, see your podiatrist. Just like vascular diseases though, most people know they have a greater health issue before they see these symptoms.
- Persistent sores or numbness
Both of these are strong indicators of diabetes. If you see sores or injuries on your feet (particularly the bottom) that just wont seem to heal or you suddenly start experiencing pins and needles sensations in your feet, have your blood sugar checked. Don’t put this one off either, when left untreated (meaning managing your diabetes) a foot ulcer can worsen over time creating infection. In fact, 6% of people with chronic ulcers end up hospitalized from complications.
I say it over and over again, but pain is never normal! If you experience pain of any sort in your feet, go get it checked. Having pain around your joints? Could be an early indication of arthritis. Constantly cramping up? Could be dehydration or a mineral insufficiency of potassium, calcium, magnesium, or sodium. If your feet hurt all the time and become very painful to walk on you could be losing bone density, an early indication of osteoporosis.
There are all sorts of incredible things your feet can tell you (even if they aren’t really predicting the future) so pay attention to them. Examine your skin and nails for abnormalities, watch for sores or discolorations, and remember that pain in your feet is not normal! Start by seeing your podiatrist to rule out a directly related foot injury or disease then see your primary care physician to continue routine health monitoring. Your feet can tell you a lot if you just stop and listen.
Let’s go back to high school Anatomy class. The human heart has four chambers that beat in rhythm. Blood is pumped into the heart by your veins and pumped out of your heart by your arteries. If you have poor circulation in your legs and feet, it could be caused by a problem with either your veins or your arteries. Both have very different symptoms, but they are equally bad for your health.
Here is a quick rundown on the two main culprits: Venous Insufficiency and Peripheral Artery Disease.
Your veins carry blood back to the heart. If they are not functioning properly, your circulation becomes an uphill battle, literally. Veins are equipped with valves that open and shut and keep the blood flowing in the correct direction. When these valves have trouble opening and closing it can lead to Venous Insufficiency. Signs of venous insufficiency include swelling, varicose veins, feeling of heaviness in the foot, and could eventually lead to leg ulcers. You are more likely to develop venous insufficiency if you are over the age of 60, you smoke, you are obese or lead a sedentary lifestyle, or if you have high cholesterol.
Peripheral Artery Disease
Arteries carry freshly pumped blood away from the heart to your extremities. When your arteries are constricted, narrowed, or blocked, you may experience symptoms of Peripheral Artery Disease. Contributors to PAD include smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and leading a sedentary lifestyle. Persons suffering from PAD may have mild symptoms such as persistently cold hands and feet, or more serious issues like chronic leg cramping, burning sensation, or numbness.
Wearing compression hose or elevating your feet are good home remedies to help alleviate symptoms. But that’s not enough; stop smoking, get your cholesterol to a healthy level, and increase your exercise. Treating the underlying causes of either condition is the only way to ensure long-term relief. If these conditions are left untreated for too long, they both can lead to life threatening issues that go way beyond your feet. If you experience any of these symptoms, talk to your podiatrist about your circulation today.
Wondering what P.A.D. is? Many of you probably know already, but P.A.D. stands for Peripheral Artery Disease. One in every 20 adults over the age of 50 has Peripheral Artery Disease. This occurs when fatty deposits, called plaque, clog the arteries of the legs. This can cause all sorts of problems with your legs and feet, not to mention the increased risk of heart attack or stroke.
The first thing to remember is that pain is not normal! Many people with P.A.D. either exhibit no symptoms or ignore them, writing them off as the general pains of aging. You should not feel pain in your feet or legs at any time. Some of the most common symptoms include pain, cramping, heaviness, or tiredness when walking or climbing stairs, pain that disrupts sleep, color changes in feet or legs, poor nail growth, and sores or wounds that heal slowly or poorly. Even if you don’t exhibit symptoms, people with P.A.D. may notice that they cannot walk as fast or as far as they used to.
So how do we diagnose P.A.D. if most people don’t have clear symptoms? First, discuss your risk factors with your podiatrist or primary care physician. Your risk of P.A.D. is increased if you smoke or used to smoke, have diabetes, have chronic high blood pressure or high cholesterol, or a personal history of heart disease. Your doctor can perform several simple tests to see if you have Peripheral Artery Disease.
They may check the pulse in both your legs, comparing them to each other and the pulse in your arms. If the pulse is weaker in your legs or your legs are different temperatures, this is a good indication that you may have blocked arteries.
Treatment for P.A.D. is usually based on lifestyle changes and managing other conditions such as your blood pressure or cholesterol. Eat healthier, get out and exercise, and quit smoking. Sometimes medications may be prescribed to help eliminate pain or reduce the chance of blood clots. In extreme cases, special procedures or surgeries may be required.
If you think you have or have risk factors for P.A.D., call your podiatrist today. It’s never too early to start yourself on a healthier path and get yourself checked. Don’t block yourself from an active future with blocked arteries!
The weather is getting nicer and nicer and it’s time to start thinking of summer. One of my favorite summer activities is having a nice picnic while enjoying the sunshine. But some of your favorite summer foods could be wreaking havoc on your feet. Let’s take a look at why…
Peripheral artery disease and diabetes are two common ailments for Americans. Eating right can protect our feet from these conditions. “According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), a diet low in saturated fat, trans fat, and sodium and rich in fruits and vegetables can help reduce your risk of peripheral artery disease”. (http://goo.gl/N1U8So) Omega-3s are also recommended for good vascular health.
Sadly some of our favorite summer foods are high in sugar and other unhealthy ingredients, which can lead to inflammation and discomfort. Everyone loves a good hotdog, but the bun and toppings add plenty of unnecessary carbs and sugars. Try making your hotdogs kebob style! You can alternate pieces of delicious hotdog with squares of a low-carb tortilla and grilled veggies for a healthier alternative. For those who miss their ketchup and mustard, try an avocado dipping sauce to add some healthy omega-3s.
Potato chips. Everyone loves potato chips and your backyard barbeque burgers will look sad and lonely on your plate without their salty sidekick. But salt is another no-no for good health. There are plenty of non-potato alternatives in the chip aisle at the grocery store, but these can be highly processed with plenty of chemical additives that are equally bad. Try making your own chips from stuff you already have around your house. You can make chips out of tomato slices, peach slices, zucchini, eggplant, and plantains among tons of other fruits and vegetables. Give it a try!
Of course we cannot forget about dessert. Popsicles, ice cream, and other cold sugary delicacies are common cravings that finish off our picnics. But there is seldom any good nutrition in these foods. Instead of ice cream, try a shaved ice with a fruity topping. Mix some fruit with some low fat yogurt and put it in the freezer for a while for a creamy and nutritious dessert.
There are thousands of healthy alternatives to our favorite junk food summer options. A simple Google search can lead you down the path to a healthier life and an easy way to protect your foot health.