Aging Feet, It’s All About Keeping One Foot Out of the Grave and the Other Off Banana Peels!

First, a little background on how awesome our feet are, keeping us upright and moving, year after year. The human foot is an amazing example of physiological design. It contains 26 bones, 33 joints, and more than 120 muscles, ligaments, tendons, and nerves. These components work together to support the body’s weight, serve as shock absorbers, maintain our balance, and launch us forward as we walk or run.

As we age, we naturally develop more problems with our feet due to normal daily wear and tear. Our feet have been on duty our whole lives, from our first steps through to this morning’s walk or run.

Taking good care of ourselves is the best way to ensure good health into our senior years. But we don’t usually think of our feet until something goes wrong. Often our older patients wait until the pain or discomfort in their feet is unbearable. They tell us they keep thinking it will get better on its own. When this is the case, call your podiatrist right away.

Good foot care includes exercise, and foot pain can make healthy exercise difficult

It may sometimes seem as though aging leads inescapably to conditions of precarious health. But all sorts of foot pain and discomfort can be prevented, eliminated, or made more tolerable by following some simple rules (including exercise), and visiting a podiatrist whenever following those simple rules is not enough.

What can we do about our aging feet problems?

  • exercise and aging feetExercise. Adopt an exercise routine that involves the legs and feet. Keeping active helps to keep feet healthy. It strengthens arches and increases healthy blood circulation in the feet. Also, pay attention to your diet and make an effort to lose those extra pounds. Your feet will thank you.
  • Footwear. Wear shoes (and socks) that keep your foot warm and allow it to flex. Avoid shoes that rub or are too tight – these may restrict circulation or cause abrasive damage to the skin. Your shoes should support the arches of your feet. If they don’t, use proper insoles. Make sure your shoes are roomy enough for your toes and will accommodate the normal daily swelling that tends to come with age.
  • Skin care. Take care of the skin on your feet. Use a pumice stone or similar device to remove hard skin, which can lead to callous formation and other foot problems. Moisturize your feet with skin a hydrating lubricant, which will help your feet stay smooth and free from calluses and cracking.

Just like the rest of our body, our feet tend to wear out as we get older

There are foot problems that naturally appear as we age, but pain and uncomfortable feet are not something to “put up with”. Visiting a podiatrist will help to improve comfort, relieve any pain and help mobility. Here are a few things that happen to our feet as we get older:

  • Loss of the natural collagen/elastin padding under the heel and the ball of the foot.
  • Flattening of the arch.
  • Stiffening of the ankle and foot joints.
  • Lengthening and widening of the foot.
  • Loss of skin elasticity and arch resilience.
  • Reduction of blood circulation in the feet.

As we age, an annual foot health check is as important as a sight or hearing test

Some medical conditions will cause foot problems. For example, diabetes can reduce blood circulation in the feet and cause nerve damage (either loss of feeling or prickly pain). Diabetes is often the culprit blamed for ulcers on the feet that just won’t heal.

Hardening of the arteries (arteriosclerosis) and peripheral arterial disease can also bring about foot problems. Both rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis can significantly affect the feet. Gout, caused by an accumulation of uric acid, can cause intense and chronic pain, usually at the base of the big toe.

7 foot conditions commonly associated with aging feet:

  • Bunions
    plantar fasciitis treatment options, heel pain and baseball

    Plantar fasciitis is the inflammation of tough, fibrous band of tissue (fascia) of tissue that connects the heel bone to the toes.

    – Painful bony growths, which generally form at the base of the big toe. Over time, a bunion can force the big toe over the adjacent toe.

  • Calluses and corns – These are thick accumulations of dead skin on toes.
  • Hammertoes – The joints of a toe curl up and become inflexible, sometimes resulting in a permanently dislocated joint.
  • Toenail problems related to age – including ingrown, thickened, and discolored toenails. One third of our older population is estimated to suffer from fungal infections under a toenail.
  • Pain in the heel – usually associated with heel spurs (bony outgrowths) or plantar fasciitis (an inflamed ligament along the bottom of the foot).
  • Morton’s neuroma – this condition, which is more common in women than in men, involves an enlarged nerve which causes pain, burning, tingling, or numbness on the ball of the foot or between the toes.
  • Plantar fasciitis – an inflammation of tissue in the bottom of the foot, causing sometimes severe pain.

If you are suffering from any of these foot conditions and especially if they are painful you should see a foot specialist to have them take a closer look. The physicians at University Foot and Ankle Institute are here to help. Our nationally recognized podiatrists and foot and ankle specialists offer the most advanced foot and ankle care along with the highest success rates in the nation. We are leaders in the field of research and treatment of all foot and ankle conditions.

For more information or to schedule a consultation, please call (877) 736-6001 or visit us at www.footankleinstitute.com.

Dr. Stefan Feldman, DPM, FACFAS

Dr. Stefan Feldman, DPM, FACFAS

After completing his undergraduate studies, Dr. Feldman entered the Illinois College of Podiatric Medicine, where he graduated Cum Laude, also serving as vice president of the Student Chapter of American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons.

Dr. Feldman edged closer to his profession of choice when he took his residency at Kern Hospital for Special Surgery in Warren, Michigan — the hospital’s first established residency for podiatric surgeons.

Feldman has found a home at UFAI, where he works at the Westlake Village and Granada Hills. When not helping patients, Dr. Feldman is an active jogger and hiker, an activity where his wife, Teri, and Golden Retriever Beau often join him. He is also a certified scuba diver and novice golfer.
Dr. Stefan Feldman, DPM, FACFAS

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