Foot pain and foot disorders are common complaints among older people. Foot pain makes it harder to walk and carry out your daily functions. You may also have trouble with your balance and your chance of falling increases. But just because you are getting older, you do not have to put up with foot pain. Being able to walk easily is extremely important, since walking is one of the best ways to exercise and keep fit.
What are Foot Problems?
Decades of standing changes your feet. Much of the natural cushion of padding under your heel and the ball of your foot is lost. The arches get flatter and less flexible, your ankles and foot joints become stiffer, and your whole foot gets wider and longer.
Because of these changes, you may develop foot pain and other problems even if you never had difficulties with your feet before.
Certain medical conditions put you at greater risk of foot problems. For example, diabetes can cause reduced blood circulation and nerve damage in the feet.
The Most Common Types of Foot Problems
In older adults, the foot complaints encountered most often are:
• Bunions. A bony growth or misaligned bone at the base of the big toe or sometimes on the small toe. Eventually, the big toe may bend abnormally toward the small toes.
• Calluses and corns. Dead, yellowish, thickened skin on toes.
• Hammertoes. Toe joints (usually the first small toe but all the middle toes may be affected) that curl up or under, either rigidly or with some flexibility, often resulting in a permanently dislocated joint.
• Toenail problems. Ingrown (growing into the skin), thickened, or discolored toenails.
• Foot problems related to diabetes. Such as stubborn foot ulcers that are difficult to heal, loss of feeling or circulation problems.
• Foot problems associated with deformities. These may be caused by arthritis (including rheumatoid arthritis and gout).
• Heel pain. This pain is present at the back of the arch from heel spurs (bony outgrowth) or plantar fasciitis (an inflamed ligament along the bottom of the foot).