“Walking is great exercise for the feet,” said Robert Zwolak, MD, president of the Society for Vascular Surgery. Both podiatrists and vascular surgeons agree that good blood flow is essential for foot health. A brisk 30-minute walk every day is just what the doctor ordered.
Simple advice for daily foot care include:
* Improve circulation by walking, bicycling, dancing and swimming.
* Inspect feet for cuts, sores, blisters, redness, warm spots or swelling. Wash feet in warm water. Moisturize for soft skin. Cut toenails straight across.
* Wear socks and properly fitting shoes.
* Protect feet from heat and cold.
* Wiggle toes. Flex feet and ankles for five minutes two to three times each day to maintain blood flow.
“Feet are our foundation,” said Dr. Michael King, president of the American Podiatric Association. “Healthy feet are fundamental to the quality of our daily lives. We need to take care of them every day, and see a medical professional if they begin to hurt.” Vascular surgeons and podiatrists work closely to access and treat patients with severe foot problems.
Many symptoms require care by a podiatrist:
* Hair loss on toes may be a sign of poor circulation.
* Blue thread veins and very white skin are common among lifelong smokers and may indicate vascular disease.
* A swollen foot may indicate a blocked lymph node or deep vein thrombosis, a dangerous blot clot in the legs.
* Corns and blisters are important to treat promptly in those with diabetes. Sufferers may not feel the pain in their feet due to numbness, and left untreated, these conditions may lead to serious illness.
* Dry, cracked heels may indicate a thyroid problem.
* Swollen feet may indicate heart or kidney problems.
* Any changes in the color, thickness or loosening of the toenails should be evaluated.