We all know that routine checkups are an important part of comprehensive, preventative medical care. So many lasting, devastating progressive medical problems build up slowly, and can only really be stopped through early detection. If you wait for symptoms to get bad, it might already be too late.
That’s why many of us dutifully schedule our annual physicals with our primary care physician, annual eye exams with our optometrist or ophthalmologist, and two visits to the dentist every year.
And if you’re already doing all that, great! Keep it up.
However, we want to make an additional case:
You should also be checking in with your podiatrist on a regular basis, too.
In fact, an annual checkup from your foot doctor—or maybe more or less often, depending on what your podiatrist recommends—could be one of the best medical decisions you ever make.
Here are some of the many reasons why.
Your Feet Can Tell You A Lot About Your Overall Health
Many people think about their feet as if they’re totally disconnected from everything else that’s going on with the rest of their body.
But actually, feet are often one of the first parts of the body to show troubling warning signs of more serious systemic conditions. The surprising truth is that a regular checkup with a foot specialist can actually help you catch major problems before they have time to get worse.
To briefly look at a few examples:
- Are your feet tingling or experiencing weird, painful burning, shocking, or other sensations? This could be a sign that you’re developing peripheral neuropathy—or even have undiagnosed diabetes. If so, counteracting the progression of neuropathy as soon as possible is critical if you want to avoid permanent nerve damage, or greatly increasing your risk of ulcers and amputation.
- Are your feet always feeling cold? This could also be a sign of diabetes but may also indicate hypothyroidism (which can further affect muscles, joints, and even brain function).
- Suffering from constant foot cramps or leg cramps? The top suspect would probably be some kind of nutritional deficiency or dehydration, although more serious nerve diseases are possible.
- Are your toenails looking strange? There could be a number of things going on depending on the symptoms you’re experiencing. Spoon-like indentations could mean anemia. Red streaks could be a sign you’re on the path to endocarditis. Discolorations of varying sorts could suggest fungal infections, lung disease, bruising, nutritional deficiencies, and many other potential problems.
As you can see, your feet may have a lot more to tell you than you realize about what’s going on with the rest of your body! A comprehensive regular checkup with a podiatrist can help you catch and manage or treat these conditions sooner and more effectively.
The Annual Diabetic Checkup
If you already have a diabetes diagnosis, an annual exam with a foot doctor becomes more than just “a really good idea.” It quite realistically could be the difference between decades of healthy activity or being forced to amputate a foot or leg below the knee.
Uncontrolled or poorly regulated blood sugar really does a number on your feet. Diabetes is strongly linked to poor circulation as well as progressive peripheral nerve damage in the lower extremity, and these problems slowly get worse over time.
In fact, by the time you start to notice symptoms—tingling feet, slow hair growth, cold skin, etc.—the damage might already be extensive and at least partially irreversible.
But screening tests from your podiatrist can help detect these conditions early, before they progress into a more damaging and threatening stage. That gives you more time to develop healthy habits and slow or halt that progression.
And of course, there’s a lot more we can help you with than just screening tests.
We’ll also provide any “maintenance care” you might need to keep your feet in top shape and reduce your risk of developing an ulcer—trimming corns and calluses, addressing any foot deformities you may have, soothing dry and cracked skin, and the like.
Healthy Feet Are the Key to Healthy Living
One more big point we want to make: as go your feet, so goes the rest of your body—and your overall health. That includes physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing.
Think about it for a second.
You rely on your feet for nearly everything you do, all day long. Standing. Going for walks. Getting around. Working. Going shopping. Playing sports. Playing with the kids.
Sure, feet are only one part of the equation when it comes to living a healthy and happy life. But it’s one part of the equation that you can’t remove without affecting everything else.
If your feet are in pain, you can barely do anything. Work becomes miserable. You no longer enjoy your old hobbies. Chores get left undone because you can’t stand long enough to do them. You get hardly any exercise—which compounds any other health problems you may be experiencing.
Regular checkups—along with seeing a podiatrist whenever any painful symptoms in your feet or ankles affect your daily living or just won’t go away—are a big part of keeping your whole body and mind healthy.
If your feet are hurting, you’re overdue for a diabetic foot exam, or it’s just been too long since you’ve seen a podiatrist, be sure to give Dr. Keith McSpadden a call. We pride ourselves on offering the most advanced diagnostics, research, and treatment options to ensure you get an accurate diagnosis and effective options for both treatment and prevention.
To schedule an appointment, give us a call today at (512) 593-2949.