Many times we ignore disease symptoms that are manifested through the feet not knowing they could be deadly. There are diseases that are systematic (affect a number of body organs or tissues) and their symptoms are manifested through the feet yet in other cases, they may be local.
“The feet are very important parts of the body a person should not neglect. There are various medical conditionswhose symptoms can be shown in the feet although some may be non-threatening or just affect the local area around the foot for instance foot infections,” says Andrew Ssekitoleko the director of medical services at International Hospital Kampala (IHK).
A single foot contains 33 joints 100 tendons, muscles, and ligaments and countless nerves and blood vessels that link all the way to the heart, spine, and brain. Unresolved foot problems can have numerous health consequences and here are some things to check out on your feet.
When your feet change from their normal colour and become pale it can be a foot infection, dermatological problems (skin disease around the foot), cancers such as Kaposi’s sarcoma as well as blood supply problems.
“This is a common feet problem among adults both male and females usually above 18 years as a result of sitting for so long or during pregnancy. In most cases feet swelling may be harmless to your health unless if one of the foot swells or if accompanied by foot discolouration,” says Dr. Ssekitoleko.
Swelling of the feet may however show kidney, heart or liver problems as well as vascular diseases. He adds that, “Swelling in children is very serious and parents should be very sensitive when their children’s feet swell. This could be a sign of poor nutrition or any other health problem that needs to be addressed as soon as possible.”
Swollen toe joints may be a sign of Rheumatoid arthritis, a degenerative joint disease which is first felt in the smaller joints, such as the toes and fingers.
If your feet lose sensation, you will have poor communication. A person should be able to feel pain in case of injury, temperatures (high and low), vibrations that help in the position and movement.
Through sensations, the body is able to transmit information from the brain and spinal cord to the rest of the body.
“After 70 years, Dr Ssekitoleko says a person is not able to walk properly because they have lost the vibration sense responsible for movement.” This explains the reason why elderly people walk slower in a jerky way.
Problems with sensation may be a result of injuries, blood supply problems, diabetes, HIVAids, old age and problems with the spinal cord or nervous system. “Cold sensations to the feet can be a result of poor blood circulation, disorders of the nervous system, cold exposure injuries and decreased metabolism, says Dr Ssekitoleko. Other diseases that
cause cold feet symptoms include diabetes, arteriosclerosis (buildup of fats on artery walls) and peripheral vascular disease.”
In diabetic patients, chronic abnormally elevated blood and urine sugar causes narrowing of arteries and capillaries that impair blood supply to tissues leading to cold feet symptoms. “Numbness in both feet and having prickly pins-and-needles sensation is a symbol of neuropathy (weakness, numbness, and pain from nerve damage, usually in the hands and feet), or damage to the nervous system. Neuropathy is usually caused by diabetes and alcohol abuse,” remarks Dr. Ssekitoleko.
These are reactions a body makes in response to something even when you have not thought about them. They usually help in movement and their malfunction may mean brain or spinal damage.
Soft, brittle nails accompanied by colour change may be a result of a fungal infection or a systematic disease that must be treated urgently because the infection can cause smelly feet.
Odour (smell) of the feet
“Smelling feet manifest more in men than women because they usually sweat more, says Dr Ssekitoleko. The sweat does not smell but the odour is due to a bacterial or fungal infection around the feet. Having a wound on the foot may also cause smelly feet but ensure to treat the wounds to avoid the smell.”
Diagnosis using feet
The feet are the most effective place to diagnose different infections because almost all the body organs’ nerve endings are found there.According to Dr Goodrich Muteguya a reflexologist at Alleluia Reflexology Health Solutions and Nutrition Centre, “Every body organ has its reflex point in the feet and hands because all nerve endings (about 7000 in each foot) are found in these places. Therefore the feet act as the mirror for the body and several illnesses can be
detected through them.”
Reflexology is a pressure technique applied using the thumbs and fingers on the reflex points in the feet. Dr. Muteguya says, “Reflexology is the use of foot massage to relieve tension and treat illness, based on the theory that there are reflex points on the feet or hands linked to every part of the body.” The foot massage helps to stimulate the muscles and nerves in the foot and through this, reflexologists are able to identify a body organ that may be ill.
“Reflexology therapy is based on the principle that reflexes in the feet and hands correspond to a body organ or structure which are linked by energy channels. When there is an illness, pain or disease, the corresponding energy channel gets blocked,” says Muteguya. Therefore, reflexology works to unblock the energy channels and
induces relaxation in these channels. The therapy helps to bring all the systems of the body in to balance by improving blood circulation, boosting the immune system and relief of stress and tension in the body.
“This therapy is not a luxury. Just like anyone would go for gym or aerobics for their fitness, reflexology is important as well so people should have it at least once in a week to keep their nerves active.”
Due to the busy schedules, Muteguya says most people spend most of their time in shoes which is unhealthy. He aises people to walk barefooted, also called earthing, which will help them to increase antioxidants in their bodies, reducing inflammation, and improving sleep.
“For the wellness of the nerves, a person should walk barefooted on soil, grass, sand (any natural surface) for at least 40 minutes daily to increase antioxidants in the body and reduce the risk of catching
infections,” he adds. For people who cannot find the natural surfaces daily, the reflexologist aises that they can make it by putting soft stones in a one -square-metre piece of land in the compound.
What your feet are made of
Did you know that a single foot contains 33 joints 100 tendons, muscles, and ligaments and countless nerves and blood vessels that link all the way to the heart, spine, and brain?
SOURCE: Daily Monitor