Can Foot Problems Signal A More Serious Health Condition?

More than a simple inconvenience, foot problems may be a red flag signaling a serious health problem. Recognizing some of the foot-related signs and symptoms of systemic disease may help stop a dangerous health condition in its tracks.

What makes the feet so special?

More than one quarter of all the bones in the body are located in the feet. These bones form 33 joints and are held together with more than 100 tendons, ligaments and muscles. These intricately interlinking structures are subject to the full weight of the body while twisting and turning through changing terrains and conditions. Running throughout this complex structure are blood vessels and nerves that connect from the feet all the way to the brain. As a result, any condition affecting the way in which the feet bear the weight of the body or impacting the function of nerves or blood vessels may be recognized by symptoms in the feet.


Swollen feet

Whenever circulation becomes sluggish, the feet may accumulate fluids and swell. This can occur temporarily after prolonged periods of immobility, such as excessive sitting or standing during work or travel. Swelling that does not subside may indicate a more profound problem of the circulation. This may include problems with the vessels themselves, an excess of fluids, or may be due to a weakening heart. Inexplicable and excess swelling of the legs or feet should prompt a visit to a health care professional.


Cold feet

Not just for bashful bridegrooms, cold feet can signal serious health problems. Oftentimes, cold feet result from chronic changes to circulatory function, either locally or systemically. Such vascular disorders can occur independently or accompany other conditions such as diabetes.

An acute change in the blood flow to the feet may be due to the intravascular occlusion of a vessel, such as can occur with blood clots, or from external compression of a vessel after an injury. Any sudden onset of cold feet, particularly if it is accompanied by other symptoms such as pain, tingling or swelling, should be considered a medical emergency and warrants a visit to urgent care services.

Tingly feet

A foot that seems to “fall asleep” all the time, may indicate a neurological problem. That tingling or “pins and needles” sensation may also be accompanied by other symptoms, such as pain or numbness. While this is all too often a complication of diabetes, it can also arise from a number of other health conditions such as vitamin deficiency or autoimmune disorders. Tingling in the feet, with or without changes in the function of the feet, indicates it may be time for a health care check-up.

Reading the signs

Although this article is intended to be informative, it is no substitution for professional medical care. Do not delay in visiting a health care professional who can interpret the foot signs and symptoms indicating other important health care conditions.

Turn to American Foot and Leg Specialists for your foot care needs. With four locations, American Foot and Leg Specialists are able to serve the entire South Atlanta Metro area. Visit one of our offices from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM Monday thru Friday, we serve patients from Fulton County, Cobb County, Douglas County, Fayette County, Henry County, Clayton County and beyond.