Dr. Kenneth R. Wilhelm of Clifton Foot & Ankle Center would like our patients in Fairfax County and northern Virginia to know that January is Thyroid Awareness Month. The thyroid gland is in your neck, but it can have a great deal to do with your feet.

The thyroid gland and the pituitary gland (located in the brain) are responsible for creating and distributing hormones throughout the body. Thyroid hormones include TSH, T3, T4, Free T3, and Free T4 – but these names aren’t as important as knowing what they do: they work together to provide the body with energy. All your muscles, organs, and tissues function well because of thyroid hormones.

When there is too little thyroid hormone circulating throughout your body, you have hypothyroidism. Your body functions slow down. You may feel extremely tired and cold. In contrast, hyperthyroidism means you’ve got an oversupply of thyroid hormones, making you feel nervous, irritable, and like your heart is racing.

Other symptoms of a thyroid problem include:

  • thinning hair, including your eyebrows
  • dry, brittle hair
  • irregular periods
  • bowel changes such as severe constipation or hard stools
  • high cholesterol or high blood pressure that doesn’t respond to medication or exercise.
  • weight gain
  • depression and anxiety
  • hoarseness

Clues in your feet and legs

Possible signs of thyroid disease to look out for in your lower limbs include:

  • itchy, dry, coarse, or pale skin
  • cold feet or toes
  • pain in your joints
  • pain in your shins
  • heel pain
  • swelling

Of course, joint pain in your toes could be due to degenerative arthritisbone spurs, or other podiatric conditions completely unrelated to thyroid disease. If you are experiencing foot symptoms accompanied by others listed here, it’s worth a discussion with your primary care doctor or Dr. Wilhelm, our board-certified podiatrist. Doctors diagnose thyroid disease with a simple blood test, and there are effective medications to treat it. For more information, contact us online or call our Centreville office at (703) 996-3000.

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