In the past, we’ve explored foot anatomy in terms of bones, joints, and ligaments. However, the amazing human foot has many other components that contribute to its complexity and function including nerves, skin, muscles, veins, arteries, and of course, toenails. Each part plays a key role in the mechanics and protection of the foot. 

Nerves

The human foot contains thousands of nerve endings. Nerves in the feet branch out and give us feeling in the feet. These nerves communicate vital information to the brain and allow us to use our feet and keep our balance.

Perhaps this dense concentration of nerve endings also accounts for why feet tend to be very ticklish for many people. 

Damage, injury, or underlying medical conditions such as diabetes can lead to nerve pain or loss of feeling in the foot. 

Skin

As the largest organ in our body, our skin – including the skin on our feet – does much to protect us by keeping harmful substances out. Skin also allows us to feel our surroundings, including sensing things like temperature and texture, while at the same time working to keep our body temperature at a controlled level.  

Due to heavy use and friction, the skin of the feet can easily develop calluses, bunions, and other podiatric problems. 

Muscles

The foot and ankle are made up of nearly 30 different muscles, each serving a specific purpose. For example, the toes have both flexor and extensor muscles, giving them their strength and range of motion, all the while helping us keep our balance. These hard-working muscles power dynamic activities such as running, jumping, and swimming. As with other muscles in the body, foot muscles are strengthened through use.

Muscle imbalances can lead to injury, such as sports injuries, which may require medical attention. 

Veins and Arteries 

As with the rest of the body, the circulatory system stems throughout the feet to supply a consistent supply of blood flow. The blood supplies oxygen to the foot’s tissues through a web of veins and arteries. Good circulation is necessary to keep feet healthy, functional, and feeling properly.

Factors such as advanced age, smoking, and obesity, as well as conditions such as diabetes, can prevent the feet from getting the blood circulation they need. Another common circulatory problem often manifested in the feet is varicose veins. 

Toenails

They may seem unsightly, but toenails do much to protect our toes. Made from keratin, toenails are super resilient and serve as a shield for toes which could otherwise be easily damaged by human activities. Since the cells that make up toenails actually die, it does not hurt to trim them, much like hair, which is made from the same protein. 

However, toenails are susceptible to bruising, falling off, becoming ingrown, or developing a fungal infection. Proper care and maintenance are necessary, including regular trimming. 

Fresno, CA Podiatry Clinic

Here at Canyon Oaks Foot & Ankle, we know every part of the foot like the back of our hand. We treat a wide variety of foot problems, injuries, and conditions. With three locations throughout the Central Valley, we are here to help you on the road to happier feet. Find out more about our services and book an appointment today.