Foot warning: Dr Christian Jessen reveals sign that could signal serious health condition

Foot problems include verrucas, athlete’s foot, bunions, heel pain, blisters and smelly feet – most of which can be treated with advice from your pharmacist. While the symptoms of these conditions are usually obvious, in some, more severe cases, the feet can present signs of more serious health conditions. Dr Christian Jessen, best known for presenting Channel 4 programme Embarrassing Bodies, told during a Scholl pop-up in London that with conditions like diabetes, it’s very important patients get their feet checked.

Having diabetes damages your circulation, it damages your nerves, so your feeling in your feet goes

Dr Christian Jessen

“With diabetes, I hope you’re regularly seeing a podiatrist or going to a foot clinic. It’s really, really important,” he said.

“I think it’s unlikely you’re going to diagnose your diabetes through a foot condition – you’ve got to have quite advanced diabetes for that to happen, and I think you’d be feeling pretty ill – but having unregulated blood sugar damages your circulation, it damages your nerves, so your feeling goes, your sensation goes.

“And when you can’t feel you don’t realise you’re injuring your feet, they can get worse, and you’re more likely to get infections.

“It’s important to be really foot aware.”

Podiatrist Dr Michael Harrison-Blount also outlined some other health conditions where symptoms can present themselves in the feet.

Cardiovascular disease

“We don’t use feet as a diagnostic tool to identify other healthcare conditions, but health conditions can present in the feet and cause huge complications for the feet and lower limbs as well,” he explained.

“Things like cardiovascular disease can present in the feet because that process clogs up all of the arteries, can clog lower limb vessels, and the foot will then be susceptible to issues.

“You then get a foot that’s pulseless, cold, pale and is very much at risk, and that can be from an underlying cardiovascular problem.”

Heart arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat)

Dr Harrison-Blount has a machine at his clinic that can listen to pulses int he feet, and sometimes he can pick up an arrhythmia.

He said: “We would then refer that to the GP. That might be the first time that’s been detected.”

Musculoskeletal disease

Arthritis can show symptoms in the feet, according to Dr Harrison-Blount.

He explained: “Often the small bones and joints are affected by things like rheumatoid arthritis, so we would examine somebody’s feet.

“We would ask questions around the common signs and symptoms from a clinical point of view. We would ask to look at a patient’s hands, and with that clinical look we would say, ‘you need to go have tests and you will potentially have confirmation of a diagnosis’”.

Dr Jessen’s co-presenter on Embarrassing Bodies, Dr Dawn Harper, also recently spoke to to give her advice on foot care.

Bunions can’t always be prevented and many cases are down to genetics.

But before revealing her advice for dealing with bunions, Dr Harper put the record straight that wearing high heels doesn’t cause bunions. 

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