Most people with diabetes know they are more prone to foot-related issues. However, many people with diabetes don’t know the basic anatomy of their feet. Understanding foot anatomy can help you understand and reduce the risk of complications. Understanding foot anatomy helps you describe pain or foot-related problems with your doctor. In this article, the experts from Dr. Fedorchak’s office explore the anatomy of your feet–and help you understand how different conditions affect them.
Foot Anatomy 101: Expert Exploration for Patients With Diabetes
Bones are hard, dense tissues in your body. The feet have three types of bones: phalanges, metatarsal and tarsal bones. Phalanges are the small toe bones. The big toe has two phalanges, while the rest have three. Metatarsal bones are the five long bones that comprise the space between your toes and heels. Tarsal bones extend from your heel, connecting with the metatarsals. The calcaneus is the largest tarsal bone, known as the heel bone, and it supports your body’s weight and connects to the Achilles tendon.
Muscles are soft, stretchy tissues in the body that pull on bones and move our joints. There are two types of muscles in your feet: intrinsic and extrinsic. Intrinsic muscles are tiny muscles responsible for fine movements and arch support. They help stabilize your foot, support your arch and refine movements in the lower leg. Extrinsic muscles are larger muscles located externally on the foot. These larger muscles control extensive movements like flexing, extending and rotating your ankle and toes.
Ligaments are tough bands of soft tissue that connect bones and stabilize your joints. Ligaments in your feet help maintain their arches and protect against injury. Plantar fascia, a thick band of tissue, runs along the sole of your foot and supports the arch. Inflammation or damage to the plantar fascia can lead to plantar fasciitis.
Tendons connect bones to muscles. The Achilles tendon connects your calf muscles to the heel bone. This tendon helps you point your toes downward and push off when walking or running. The peroneal tendons are along your ankle and help stabilize it during walking and other activities, like climbing stairs. Finally, the tibialis posterior tendon attaches the outside foot bones to the calf, letting you raise your heel off the ground.
Nerves are the body’s “wiring.” Nerves in the feet transmit sensory information from the skin, muscles and joints to the brain and spinal cord. Nerves relay motor commands back to the muscles. These nerves enable us to feel sensations like touch, temperature and pain. They also help us maintain balance and coordination by providing feedback on our foot’s position and movement.
How To Use Foot Anatomy to Understand Your Feet Health
Now that you understand the basic anatomy of your feet, you can more readily recognize potential foot-related issues. Below are three common foot-related conditions that can affect you if you have diabetes.
- Neuropathy: Diabetes can damage nerves in your feet, leading to loss of sensation, tingling or pain. Regularly check your feet for unusual sensations, including loss of feeling or extreme sensitivity.
- Poor Circulation: Diabetes can affect blood flow, increasing the risk of slow wound healing and infections. Look out for cold or discolored feet and slow-healing wounds.
- Charcot Foot: This condition can result from neuropathy, causing the bones in your feet to weaken and deform. Changes in foot shape or alignment should be reported to your healthcare provider.
Understanding the anatomy of your feet is a crucial first step in caring for your foot health, especially if you have diabetes. Regular self-examinations, proper foot care routines and seeking professional guidance can help prevent complications. You deserve healthy, pain-free feet to get you through life’s adventures. Contact Dr. Fedorchak to schedule your foot exam today.