Your feet take a beating, every day. If they start to hurt, you need to take that foot pain and any other problems seriously.
By Eric Metcalf, MPH
Medically Reviewed by Lindsey Marcellin, MD, MPH
If you had a headache every single day, you probably wouldn’t tell yourself, “Oh, well, another day, another headache. That’s part of life.” But many people go through that very routine when it comes to sore feet, says Paul F. Brezinski, DPM, a Chicago-area podiatrist and president of the Illinois Podiatric Medical Association.
Foot Health: Complex and Vital Body Parts
The American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA) considers your feet a marvel of engineering. Together, your two feet contain more than 50 bones, accounting for about one-fourth of all the bones in your body. And somehow they also make room for more than 60 joints and 200 muscles, tendons, and ligaments that hold them together and help them move.
Think of all the activities that stress your feet. Your job may require that you stand or walk around for hours at a time. Your choice of exercise, like running, can really impact your tootsies as well. And then there’s the matter of style. Women often wedge their feet into shoes that don’t give them the room or support they need, such as floppy sandals or the pair of designer pumps that were irresistible when they went on sale — even though they’re a half-size smaller than they should be.
Foot Health: Related Problems
Your feet can develop certain health problems because they’re the farthest body parts from your heart, Brezinski adds. Your heart pumps blood to your feet through arteries and several medical conditions, such as peripheral arterial disease, can reduce that blood flow to your feet. This is due to a buildup of plaque in these blood vessels. If this occurs, your feet and lower legs may not get the oxygen-rich blood they need to thrive. Diabetes, a condition that affects about 24 million Americans, can also lead to reduced blood flow to your feet that can severely threaten their health.
Many other common conditions can affect the skin on your feet or the bones and tissues inside. These range from relatively minor problems, such as athlete’s foot, to deeper ones such as bunions (misshapen joints in the big toes) and neuromas (painful but benign growths on a nerve).
Foot Health: Heed the Warnings
You shouldn’t ignore any foot-related conditions or try to suffer through them because they’re “only” affecting your feet, Brezinski warns. If you can’t walk comfortably, you’re more likely to stop being physically active, which can reduce your quality of life. In addition, many common life-threatening diseases, from heart disease to some forms of cancer, are associated with a sedentary lifestyle.
If pain in your feet is keeping you from exercising or simply moving around as much as you’d like, it’s time to schedule an appointment with your doctor or a podiatrist, a specialist for the feet. Your tootsies will thank you — and so will your heart and lungs.
Article originally found at Everydayhealth.com