How to Do a Self-Exam on Your Feet

April is National Foot Health Awareness Month and here at Paul Klein, DPM, FACFAS, we believe in teaching our patients how to be proactive when it comes to the health of their feet and ankles. One important way to get out in front of potential podiatric problems is by conducting periodic self-exams on your feet. Of course, these in no way take the place of regular checkups by our podiatrists, Dr. Paul G. Klein. In fact, they are a way to make your checkups more productive and to bring any abnormalities to the attention of the podiatrist so that foot problems can be diagnosed and treated in their earliest stages. Below are the elements of a good foot exam and what they can reveal:

Appearance

Stand with your two feet a few inches apart and look down at them. Do your feet appear to be the same size? Is one foot larger or swollen compared to the other? Does anything look unusual about your toes—drifting inward, bending downward into a claw or hammer shape? Next, sit down and look over each foot—top, bottom, heel and between the toes. Changes in skin color, rashes, moles, blisters, cuts or bruises should all be noted.

Possible disorders: Bunionshammertoes, stress fractures, Athlete’s foot or another bacterial or fungal infection, skin cancer and foot injuries.

Circulation

Good blood flow is essential for healing wounds and injuries and just for good overall foot health. If you notice swelling around your ankles or discoloration of the skin or nails this may be a sign of impeded circulation.

Possible disorders:Poor circulation may be associated with systemic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension and peripheral arterial disease.

Sensation

Take the eraser end of a pencil and run it along the tops, bottoms, and sides of both of your feet. The degree of feeling should be the same all around. Numbness in one particular area or other unusual sensations such as tingling, burning, and pins and needles can point to a problem.

Possible disorders: Neuropathy (or nerve damage) is often the cause of sensation issues. This can be associated with peripheral arterial disease, diabetes, a nerve problem or a back injury.

Pain

Pain is never normal. It is your body’s way of telling you something is wrong. It’s important to be able to tell the foot doctor the type of pain (sharp, stabbing, dull ache) and the circumstances when you most notice the pain.

Possible disorders: Tendonitis, sprain, fracture, deformity, plantar fasciitis, joint disease or an injury.

If you are experiencing pain or find other unusual symptoms when examining your feet, contact our Wayne, New Jersey office by calling: (973) 595-1555.