As we get older, foot care is highly important. Feet begin to change and the muscles and tendons in feet begin to loose elasticity, which can cause foot pain. According to an article in the U.S. News & World Report by Stacey Colino, “a study in a 2016 issue of Maturitas found that foot pain affects 1 in 4 adults after age 45, and it’s at least somewhat disabling in two-thirds of those cases. Even worse, foot pain in older adults is associated with a 62 percent increased risk of recurrent falls, according to a study in a 2017 issue of Gerontology.”
In her article, Colino goes on to list six things that you may not have known about aging feet.
- Obesity can increase your risk of suffering from foot pain. With excess weight on the body, the foot can’t handle the mechanical load that’s being put on it. Unfortunately, the obesity issue can create a vicious cycle, whereby obesity increases the risk of foot pain, which makes people less likely to engage in weight-bearing physical activities, which can lead to more weight gain, and so on, notes Dr. Clifford Jeng, medical director of the Institute for Foot and Ankle Reconstruction at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore. Consider this extra incentive to shed excess pounds.
- Loss of fat in the feet can make you more susceptible to foot pain. We’re all born with a certain amount of fat under our feet, especially under the heels and the balls of our feet, which allows for shock absorption. As we age, and without proper foot care, the fat padding under our feet can atrophy – some people’s gets thinner more rapidly than others, Jeng explains. Over-training and getting cortisone injections (to reduce pain and swelling in the feet) can accelerate the fat pad loss in the feet. When this happens, people often complain that it feels like they’re walking on hard rocks or marbles, which can lead to pain and a flattening of the feet. What’s more, losing the fat pad can make you more susceptible to stress fractures, bruised bones and balance problems as you get older. You can buy insoles or gel pads to put in your shoes wherever you need the extra padding – including under your heel, under the ball of your foot or next to a bunion.
- Compromised blood flow to the feet can cause or worsen foot pain. Various factors can affect the quality of blood flow to the feet, including whether you smoke or have diabetes, peripheral neuropathy or blood clots. Poor circulation to the feet is a problem because diminished blood flow may manifest itself as frank pain when the soft tissues are not being perfused with enough circulation. It’s essential to tell your doctor about any numbness or tingling you have in your feet, as well as any chronic diseases, such as diabetes, arthritis or vascular disorders, that you have to ensure you are getting the proper amount of foot care.
- Different foot ailments become more common with age. Bunions, hammertoes, fungal infections, corns and calluses can occur at any age. Meanwhile, certain foot ailments become more common as people get older. These include plantar fasciitis, posterior tibial tendonitis, Achilles tendinitis, and big toe arthritis. Persistent pain or swelling in the foot, especially when accompanied by compromised mobility, warrant a visit to your doctor. Improving pain and keeping mobile and active can be a catalyst for healthier living and a better quality of life.
- When shopping for new shoes, always have your feet measured. Everyone’s feet get larger as they get older. When selecting footwear, don’t become a slave to fashion. Instead, choose your shoes wisely. Make sure shoes have room in the toe box to accommodate your forefoot and bony protrusions on your feet. Also make sure the shoes offer plenty of cushioning for bony or tender areas.
You should tend to your feet regularly. Foot care is important! Wash your feet every day and after exercising, and be sure to dry them thoroughly. Apply a moisturizer to prevent cracking of the skin and perform daily foot exams. Look for wounds, sores, blisters, calluses, and corns. If you find any, wash them, apply an antibiotic ointment to wounds, and use a bandage to protect from friction. If you suspect you have a foot infection or an injury to your foot, consult a foot care specialist. Even if you don’t have a problem with your feet, still have an annual foot exam. That way, you can catch foot faults early before they become a major problem.
Source: The Agony of the Feet as You Get Older by Stacey Colino U.S. News & World Report