How Aging Affects Foot Health and How a Podiatrist Can Help

How Aging Affects Foot Health and How a Podiatrist Can Help

Foot health issues may develop as we age due to regular wear and tear. From bunions to flat feet, age-related foot problems can cause pain and impact your daily life. If you’re experiencing foot health issues, schedule an appointment with a podiatrist for a personalized foot pain treatment plan.

Foot Health Problems Related To Aging

Painful foot problems affect around 24% of adults aged 65 years and above. Foot pain and other issues are common in people experiencing health conditions like diabetes and osteoporosis. Other common risk factors include fungal infections in the toenails and poorly fitting shoes. Here is more information about the ways aging affects foot health and how a podiatrist can help:

Bunions

Bunions are bony bumps that form outside of the base of the big toe. These bumps develop gradually as the big toe is pushed toward the smaller toes. This may cause swelling, soreness, redness, and pain around the big toe joint. Bunions worsen with age but can also affect younger people under 18 years. They may develop due to medical conditions like arthritis or foot deformities. Older women are more susceptible to bunions, and regularly wearing tight, narrow shoes can worsen the symptoms. A podiatrist may recommend several foot pain treatment methods, such as ice and wearing comfortable, roomy shoes. In severe cases, they may recommend surgery to correct the bunions.

Flat Feet

Flat feet are identified when the soles of the feet touch the ground when an individual stands up. While flat feet are standard in babies, most of them outgrow this condition with time. Flat feet in older adults can result from injury, diabetes, obesity, or high blood pressure. This condition occurs when the tendons supporting the foot’s arch become damaged or stretched, causing the feet to flatten. Pain from flat feet increases with activity and may be accompanied by swelling in the ankle. Lower back pain may be linked to the spinal misalignment caused by flat feet. Treatment options for flat feet include anti-inflammatory medication and physical therapy. Your podiatrist may recommend lifestyle changes like wearing supportive shoes and limiting time spent standing.

Achilles Tendonitis

The Achilles tendon runs along the back of the foot and can become weakened with age. It can also weaken because of health conditions like diabetes or arthritis. Reduced blood flow to this tendon causes it to become stiff, increasing the risk of injury. Older adults suffering from Achilles tendonitis may experience a swollen and painful heel. This pain becomes more intense when walking or running. Your podiatrist may use several foot pain treatment techniques to combat Achilles tendonitis, like pain and anti-inflammatory medications, orthopedic devices, and strengthening exercises. Home treatments such as compression, ice, and rest can be used to treat mild cases.

Ingrown Toenails

Ingrown toenails form when the edges of the nail, particularly on the big toe, grow into the skin. This problem is common in older individuals but can occur at any age. Older adults with medical conditions like diabetes are at a higher risk of ingrown toenails. Toenails become thicker with age, making it more difficult to cut them effectively. These roughly cut nails can grow into the skin and cause symptoms like pain, swelling, redness, bleeding, and infection. Your podiatrist may recommend soaking your feet in warm water to soothe irritation and soften the nail. Surgical treatment may be recommended to remove severely ingrown toenails.

Diabetic Foot Ulcers

Foot ulcers occur in older adults with diabetic neuropathy. Neuropathy causes nerve damage that leads to a loss of feeling in the feet and other extremities. If an individual with diabetic neuropathy experiences minor cuts or scrapes, they may not feel pain or notice the injury. Unattended injuries allow bacteria and infections to grow, leading to ulcers. Other causes of diabetic foot ulcers include poor blood circulation and being overweight. People with diabetes should examine their feet regularly to spot and treat minor injuries as soon as possible. They should try to regulate their blood sugar and avoid using tobacco or alcohol. If you have diabetic foot ulcers, your podiatrist might suggest treatment options like antibiotics, wound care, or surgery. They may also recommend lifestyle changes to help heal and prevent foot ulcers.

Toenail Fungus

Fungal nail infections occur when fungi grow in the beds of the toenails. These infections can start at the base of the feet and spread to the toenails over time. The fungus can also enter brittle or cracked toenails, leading to an infection. Symptoms associated with this condition include yellow or discolored nails, changes in nail texture, the presence of foul odor, and pain. A foot doctor will examine the condition to identify the fungus and determine the ideal treatment option. The main treatment options include rubbing anti-fungal cream, anti-fungal nail polish, and oral medication on the infected area. Home remedies, such as cleaning and soaking the affected foot in warm water, can help reduce inflammation and infection.

Visit a Podiatrist for Foot Pain Treatment

Foot problems related to aging can be painful and negatively affect your day-to-day activities. A podiatrist provides effective care for your feet through a personalized foot pain treatment plan. Podiatrists aim to identify the cause of your foot pain and find suitable treatments to ease discomfort and cure the condition. Contact your podiatrist today to schedule a foot exam and begin treatment.