The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine

Links Between Foot Health and Overall Well-Being: Some Signs May Indicate Heart Problems

Posted by on Monday, March 10th, 2014


You may think of a podiatrist as “a doctor who looks at feet.” However, we take a much more holistic approach at The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine. We understand the feet as a reflection of a person’s overall health. For instance, the presence of non-healing ulcers may be a sign that you have undiagnosed diabetes, says The Daily Mail. Ridged or pitted nails can signal eczema or psoriasis skin diseases, while numbness or a bluish tinge to the feet can indicate circulation problems. Doctors find that foot health can also say a lot about the condition of your heart as well.

The feet can say a lot about heart health, doctors say.
Image Source: Flickr User Mauren Veras

Hairless Feet & Toes: A Sign of Vascular Disease

You may have always thought that your hairless feet were attractive, but did you know this can also be a sign or poor circulation and Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD)? When the heart cannot pump enough blood to the extremities due to atherosclerosis, the reduced blood supply leads to hair loss or inhibited hair growth.

Other symptoms of PAD may include some or all of the following:

–  Dry, shiny, thin skin

– Thick, discolored, brittle nails

– Pain and cramping — even walking short distances

– Cold, numb feet and toes

– Slow-healing wounds

We can test for PAD by completing an ankle/brachial index evaluation using a blood pressure cuff that measures arterial pressure and blood flow to the extremities. Treatment may involve the prescription of medication or surgical stent placement. Lifestyle changes like smoking cessation, adhering to a healthier diet, and exercising are also a given.

PAD feet
This is an extreme case, but advanced PAD can cause skin discoloration in the feet.
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An Enlarged Big Toe: A Sign of Arthritis

Gout is a type of painful arthritis that comes and goes related to the build-up of uric acid levels in the body. Excess uric acid forms crystalline structures in the big toe that leads to swelling, a heated sensation, and severe pain. Anyone can develop gout, but it is especially prevalent in middle-aged men or post-menopausal women. In addition to affecting the feet, it can also haunt the Achilles tendon, knees, and elbows. Interventions include medication and diet modification.

clubbed toe
Toe clubbing can indicate disease.
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Swollen Toe Tips: A Sign Of Heart Disease

A condition called “digital clubbing” or “Hippocratic clubbing” occurs when the tips of the toes swell into an upward bump. Often, the fingers become clubbed and bulbous as well. The phenomenon can be a sign of:

– Lung Disease, like pulmonary fibrosis, or lung cancer

– Heart Disease

– Crohn’s Disease.

Treatments vary, depending on which serious disease is present.

Get Your Feet Checked by a NY Podiatrist Today!

Even though it can be scary to discover you have an underlying health condition, it’s always better to know than to let it go! While new client wait lists can discourage people from scheduling a wellness visit, we are pleased to let you know we are booking new clients right away. Our New York podiatrists service the Manhattan and White Plains areas of the City, so visit our contact page to call or book an appointment online.



If you have any foot problems or pain, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports MedicineDr. Josef J. GeldwertDr. Katherine Lai, Dr. Ryan Minara and Dr. Mariola Rivera have helped thousands of people get back on their feet. Unfortunately, we cannot give diagnoses or treatment advice online. Please make an appointment to see us if you live in the NY metropolitan area or seek out a podiatrist in your area.