Our feet and ankles are one of the most stressed, over-used and yet neglected areas of the body. It’s pretty remarkable to know that our feet hold up for as long as they do, given that the average person takes approximately 3 million steps per year, and that each step places two to three times your body weight on your feet. Like every other body part, there are natural changes, some subtle and some not so subtle, that occur with the aging process and can affect foot health.
Foot problems can be very serious. One in every three elders over age 65 has foot pain. Other chronic conditions like COPD, arthritis, CHF and diabetes can complicate foot problems. The Phoenix senior care experts at Nightingale Homecare offer tips on some of the most common problems related to aging feet:
- Osteo or rheumatoid arthritis: This can develop over time, decreasing mobility.
- Fractures: Often traumatic foot injuries result in fractures, which can lead to deformity and increased pain.
- Calluses and corns: Dead, yellowish, thickened skin can rub against shoes and cause pain.
- Hammertoes: This condition refers to toe joints that curl up and under, resulting in deformity and pain.
- Ingrown toenails: Ingrown toenails grow into the skin surrounding the toenail.
- Foot ulcers: These can be very difficult to heal, and are caused by chronic conditions like diabetes.
- Foot problems associated with deformities: Conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and gout can cause a variety of problems.
- Heel spurs: This pain is present at the back of the arch.
- Plantar fasciitis: This condition causes an inflamed ligament along the bottom of the foot.
- Bunions: These are bony growths or misaligned bones at the base of the big toe or sometimes on the small toe.
- Fallen arches: Also referred to as flat feet, fallen arches, as well as abnormally high arches, can cause pain.
- Tarsal tunnel syndrome: This is a type of pinched nerve disorder.
- Tendonitis: Tendonitis describes inflammation of the tendon.
- Morton’s neuroma: This condition involves a benign nerve growth between the third and fourth toes.
- Gout: Gout is a disease resulting from defective metabolism of uric acid and causes acute pain.
One of the lesser understood culprits to problems in aging feet is the type of shoes worn by the senior. Older adults often tend to keep the same shoes for years, not understanding that as we age, our feet can go through tremendous changes. It’s not unusual for someone to experience an increase in shoe size by a half-size or more as they age. In fact, three out of four people over the age of 65 wear shoes that are too small! Probably the biggest favor you can do for yourself or an elder loved one is to evaluate shoe size and fittings every year, especially if the senior is experiencing foot pain, and then toss the old shoes!
Given the amount of stress we put on our feet in a lifetime, it’s easy to see why certain foot problems seem unavoidable. Continued foot pain is not something that should be overlooked. Consulting a podiatrist annually to stay on top of foot conditions is an important part of every elder’s health maintenance plan.