Foot Problems Risk Factors
You are at higher risk of developing foot problems in later life in the presence of any of the following factors:
- Frequent wearing of poorly fitted, pointy or high-heeled shoes
- Diabetes (especially if you have calluses or corns, poor circulation, loss of sensation, or poor eyesight)
- Neuropathy (loss of sensation) in the feet and ankles
- Other types of nerve or muscle damage (hammertoes)
- Certain occupations that involve a lot of standing
- Injuries to the feet, toes or ankles
- Abnormal blood vessels
- Flat feet or highly arched feet
- Walking often on hard surfaces
Symptoms and Warning Signs
Check your feet regularly, and watch out for signs such as dry skin, brittle or thickened nails, burning or tingling sensations, unnatural skin or nail colors, and feelings of cold or numbness. Signs of specific conditions are listed below:
A bunion looks like a bump on the outside of your big toe. It may be painless, but often causes discomfort because of inflammation and irritation of the supporting tissues under the bone. Bunions may become red, warm, inflamed, and very sensitive to pressure.
Corns and Calluses
To protect delicate inner tissues, your feet grow thickened layers of skin to guard against repetitive pressure or rubbing. Calluses that get too big or hard can damage the tissues underneath and cause painful friction.
One of the small toes, usually the second toe, becomes permanently flexed, curled and out of line with the other toes. This makes it very difficult to find comfortable shoes.
Ingrown toenails may become infected and there may be minor pain when the nail is pressed. Fungal infections of the nail can also be painful. Abnormally thick, cracked, and yellowing toenails may fall off eventually.
Diabetic Foot Problems
If you see red areas or spots, you may have an infection. Be very careful if you develop blisters or calluses or if you have ingrown toenails. In diabetes, a small cut can quickly lead to a severe infection that may put you at risk of a foot ulcer or even loss of your foot. Up to three-quarters of all amputations in diabetic people could be prevented with better monitoring of early danger signs. Severe problems with blood circulation in people with diabetes can also cause foot pain at night.
If you have diabetes, a healthcare professional should examine your feet regularly.
Arthritis Foot Problems
Joint changes associated with osteoarthritis (the most common type of arthritis), rheumatoid arthritis, or gout can lead to painful joint malformations, chronic dislocations, swelling, stiffness, and rigid joints. In gout, usually one joint—the big toe—becomes swollen and intensely painful.
Plantar fasciitis: Pain along the bottom inside edge of your foot will be evident when you stand, especially first thing in the morning. It may come and go, and feel better after resting, but can become a long-term condition if ignored.
Heel spurs: You may not know you have heel spurs, but they often cause pain on the bottom of your foot with walking and are commonly associated with plantar fasciitis.
Flat feet and feet with abnormally high arches can lead to painful changes in aging feet as the cushioning fat pads disappear.
Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome
Pain along the bottom of the foot causes numbness, tingling, or burning, especially at night.
The tendon that runs vertically from your heel causes severe pain that makes walking extremely difficult when it becomes inflamed.
The inflamed nerve causes burning or tingling sensations and cramping in the front of the foot.