As seniors, we should take better care of our bodies to avoid conditions that can hold us back from living life fully. We should mind our cardiovascular health and respiratory health, and also the health of our feet and ankles. Our feet are important for keeping an active and independent lifestyle.
In this article, we talk about the most common foot and ankle issues that affect seniors, and how to prevent them. We will also share where you can go in Warwick and Middletown, Rhode Island, or Dartmouth, Massachusetts, for top-notch podiatry care.
Common Foot and Ankle Issues in Seniors
Some of the podiatry conditions that affect many seniors due to factors related to aging and lifestyle include:
Arthritis becomes more common in seniors due to the natural wear and tear on joints over time. Age-related degeneration of cartilage and the accumulation of inflammation contribute to joint pain, swelling, and stiffness. The feet and ankles, being weight-bearing joints, are particularly susceptible to arthritis.
Bunions are often a result of genetics, but they can worsen with age due to factors like changes in foot structure and prolonged use of ill-fitting shoes. Over time, the pressure and friction on the big toe joint cause the bone to protrude, leading to the development of bunions.
#3 Plantar Fasciitis
Plantar fasciitis can occur at any age, but it becomes more common in seniors due to age-related changes in the feet, such as decreased flexibility and reduced fat padding. These changes put additional stress on the plantar fascia, leading to inflammation and heel pain.
#4 Fall-Related Injuries
Older adults are more prone to falls due to factors like muscle weakness and changes in vision. Falls can result in fractures or sprains in the feet and ankles, often due to osteoporosis, a condition characterized by low bone density that makes bones more fragile.
#5 Diabetic Foot Complications
Seniors with diabetes are at higher risk of developing foot complications due to long-term effects of the disease. Diabetes can lead to nerve damage or neuropathy and reduced blood flow, which impair sensation and impede wound healing.
Useful Tips for Better Foot and Ankle Health for Seniors
Age-related foot conditions can be prevented or minimized by seniors through various measures, such as the following:
#1 Wearing Proper Footwear
Your choice of footwear is one of the biggest influences on foot health, and your footwear needs may change with age. Older adults should choose shoes that are well-cushioned and provide support and stability. A wide toe box is also helpful in preventing problems such as corns and bunions.
#2 Prioritize Foot Care
Seniors should also maintain a regular foot care routine, including washing their feet daily, inspecting their feet for any changes to the nails and skin, and keeping nails cut at the right length.
#3 Engage in Regular Physical Activity
Engaging in regular physical activity helps improve circulation in the lower extremities and also helps strengthen muscles and maintain flexibility. Simple stretches can be helpful, as well as low-impact activities such as walks after meals.
#4 Maintain a Healthy Weight
Maintaining a healthy weight can alleviate excess stress on the feet and ankles, which can lead to foot problems such as plantar fasciitis and arthritis. A 10-pound weight gain is enough to cause foot pain.
#5 Prevent Accidents
Taking measures to prevent tripping and falling can help you avoid serious foot and ankle injuries such as ankle sprains or fractures. This includes keeping walkways clear of obstacles and using assistive devices when necessary.
#6 Correct Biomechanical Issues
Biomechanical issues, such as improper foot alignment or gait abnormalities can lead to chronic foot pain and increased risk of injuries. A foot and ankle doctor can determine the underlying cause of movement and function abnormalities and address it correctly.
#6 See a Foot and Ankle Doctor
Seniors should schedule regular check-ups with a doctor specializing in foot care, or a podiatrist. They can perform a comprehensive foot exam and intervene before a condition worsens or leads to complications.
Top Foot and Ankle Doctor in Warwick and Middletown, RI, or Dartmouth, MA
If you have a lingering symptom in your feet and ankles or want to become more proactive in caring for them, schedule an appointment with one of our board-certified foot and ankle doctors at the Foot & Ankle Institute of New England.
Our highly skilled podiatrists can provide comprehensive foot and ankle services, and by practice, we individualize our treatments for our senior patients. We listen to your concerns and use it to further enhance our recommendations.