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Toeing a healthy line - what your feet can tell you about your health

Your feet and your health - it can be more revealing than you think
Your feet and your health - it can be more revealing than you think 02:40

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) - Yesterday, we talked about how doctors can diagnose some serious health problems by looking into your eyes. 

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This morning, we're going to the south - to your feet. 

Your feet, like your eyes, can also be very revealing. 

Making eye contact can be important to communicate, but staring at your feet is something you might want to reserve for your doctor. 

It's still something you should have checked out. 

Even if you're grossed out by feet - and there is a name for it: podophobia, to a podiatrist your feet can be revealing. 

"We can definitely see evidence of different disease processes in the feet, whether it's on the skin or in the toenails or just in general," said Dr. Joy Rowland, a podiatrist at the Cleveland Clinic. 

She said that the feet can also reveal poor circulation and diabetes. 

"A patient presents with swelling of the skin or feet, sometimes it's related to heart disease or kidney disease or lymphedema or vascular disease," she said. "We can also see evidence of dermatological problems like psoriasis." 

Even the pain in your feet, the tingling, or even the numbness may have nothing to do with your feet, but it may be from a back injury. 

As for toenails, they have their own revealing qualities. 

"If you happen to come into a podiatrist's office with thickened toenails, they're crumbly, they're brittle, a podiatrist can evaluate you, take a culture, and determine if you have psoriasis, or if you have a fungal nail infection in your toenails," Dr. Rowland said. 

So, even aches and pains we associate with "I've been on my feet too long today" may actually be indicators of something else going on. 

If your doctor wants to look at your feet, it's not to evaluate your pedicure, they're looking for telltale signs of things that could be serious. 

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