Everyone knows the importance of staying active and healthy as we age. Unfortunately, most people don’t pay attention to their foot health until there’s an issue. Aging puts regular wear and tear on the feet which can cause problems, but other aging processes can affect foot health as well.
It’s important to monitor foot health as we age to ensure that our feet continue to carry us everywhere we go. Some age-related foot conditions are unavoidable, but many are preventable or can be treated easily. Foot care for aging feet is necessary to keep our feet healthy.
Common Age-Related Foot Conditions
As we age, we lose the fatty tissue underneath our foot that acts as a cushion when we walk. Because of this, the skin on our feet experiences more stress when we walk and can cause dry and cracked skin, as well as calluses. This can be very painful and lead to increased sensitivity in the foot, as well as opens the door to infection from the broken skin.
Seborrheic keratosis and stucco keratosis are both conditions that affect us as we age. In seborrheic keratosis, dark, raised lesions appear on the foot. They are benign and don’t warrant any medical care, but they have a similar appearance to melanoma so it’s important to know the difference. Stucco keratosis creates bumpy lesions that are skin coloured, usually on top of the feet and ankles. OTC exfoliants can be used to remove them, but they will likely come back. They don’t have any harsh medical repercussions, but can lead to sensitivity.
Wear and Tear
The older a person is, the more stress has been put on their feet over a lifetime. This leads to wear and tear that can largely not be avoided. Tendons, ligaments, and muscles lose their springiness and ability to “bounce back” when being used. This can cause swelling and pain as your feet try to compensate without as much support. This swelling of the feet means most people will go up a shoe size as they age and the foot grows in size. Fallen arches or a less-pronounced arch is also common as muscles weaken, causing more sensitivity and difficulty walking.
One of the most common conditions experienced in the aging process is arthritis in the feet. Getting arthritis in the feet and ankles causes difficulty walking and pain, but arthritis in the hips and knees can also cause pain and discomfort in the feet when walking. The most common problems happen on the big toe and midfoot joints on the top of the foot.
A variety of conditions, like diabetes and vein diseases, can cause slower circulation in the body. This is especially problematic for the feet as we age. Small cuts or lesions heal very slowly, meaning an infection or ulcer are more likely. Nerve damage is often closely related to these conditions, meaning these infections and cuts can go unnoticed without proper care, leading to more severe problems.
Preventing and Treating Aging Feet and Age-Related Foot Conditions
While many of these conditions occur naturally with age, there are things you can do to treat them or prevent them from becoming severe. As with many conditions, exercise can help keep your muscles and ligaments springy and healthy, decreasing swelling and sensitivity when walking.
Moisturizing feet is necessary to prevent or treat dry and cracked skin. It’s important to check your feet regularly for cracked skin, sores, cuts, or any changes in the skin. Noticing these before they progress or get infected is key for your foot health.
When at home, many people will wear slippers to keep their feet warm or make walking more comfortable. However, most slippers do not offer enough support and can encourage shuffling, which prevents the foot mechanics from working naturally. Wearing comfortable running shoes is a better option in the home to slippers, as these will offer support for the foot naturally.
Outside the home, this support is also important. Wearing proper footwear that provides arch support and complements your natural foot mechanics is essential. Avoid high heels, flat shoes, flip flops, and any other shoe that doesn’t support the foot properly. In many cases, custom fit orthotics are the best way to get this support in your footwear.
If you’ve noticed changes in your feet, contact McQuistan Chiropody. We can help you find the best treatment options for the aging processes that affect your foot. At McQuistan Chiropody, we know foot care for aging feet. Let’s get started with treatment and prevention today.