How Aging Contributes to Foot Issues
Over time, our bodies begin to wear down and our feet are no exception. Myriad changes occur to our feet as we reach our senior years. This includes muscular and skeletal changes, as well as skin and toenail changes, each coming with their own possible challenges. Here is an overview of some of the common foot issues that can come with age:
Changes in Size
Most would assume that shoe sizes stay the same after puberty, but this is not the case. As we age our feet “spread,” which may alter the size of the shoe you should be wearing. Every time you go shopping for a new pair of shoes, you should measure your feet, both for length and width. If it seems like your shoes are growing less comfortable day by day, then you might want to make sure you aren’t outgrowing them.
One of the more obvious changes we undergo as we age is the thinning of skin. Our feet are no different; and since they are an area that is often subjected to frequent friction, they can see a lot of complications. Due to the weakening and drying of the skin, abrasions are common. Make sure to use moisturizer to keep your skin supple and soft.
Several types of keratosis can make your feet skin look as if it is cancerous or infected, but these raised pigmented bumps are usually benign. Any changes in your skin should be addressed by a physician, as some of these conditions may be masking a more serious affliction.
As the wear and tear on our joints adds up over time, arthritis begins to set in. Arthritis of the feet can be one of the most painful and debilitating forms of this condition, since the feet bear the weight of our bodies. Reduced bone density can also play a role in this type of joint pain.
The weakening of joints and bones can also lead to more frequent fractures and sprains, so it’s important to wear durable, supportive, and comfortable shoes.
Circulation problems are also more common with age. Issues with the veins in the legs can cause feet to swell, making shoes ill-fitting from day to day. Sometimes only a single foot will swell, other times both will. Hormonal changes and some medications can be the cause of these issues, as well.
An additional reason to wear shoes that fit correctly is bunions. Wearing narrow shoes can cause your big toes to press inwards, jutting out the joint and causing it to elongate and press on the skin. Bunions aren’t only caused by wearing small shoes, as there is also a genetic component to their formation. They can also form on your smaller toes, but they are more pronounced on the big toes.
Ill-fitting shoes and arthritis can also cause a condition known as hammer toe. Normally, our toes point outwards from our body, but a hammertoe causes them to point downwards towards the ground. This can affect any toe on the foot, and be quite painful. The physical cause of this downward turn is a dislocation of the middle joint in the toe. Dislocation can be caused by wearing tight shoes such as high heels; or factors such as injury, arthritis, or pressure from the aforementioned bunions.
A specific type of arthritis, gout is caused by having too much uric acid in the blood stream. While this doesn’t cause symptoms in all patients, in certain individuals these high levels of uric acid cause crystals to form on the joints, usually the big toe. Gout manifests in sudden attacks of pain in the big toe until it is treated. Risk factors for gout include being overweight and having a diet high in meat and alcohol.
Gout is usually somewhat obvious by its visible effects on the big toe, causing swelling and redness. Steroids can stop a sudden gout attack, and there are long-term treatment options as well for chronic gout.
Schedule a Consultation with Dr. Vikki and Dr. Connie
As with any part of the body, investing in your foot health is essential to ensure that your feet age gracefully alongside you. To keep your feet fit for years to come, schedule a consultation with trusted podiatrists Dr. Vikki and Dr. Connie today at the Superior Foot & Ankle Care Center.