Senior Foot Care: 5 Common Foot Problems in Older Adults

February 6, 2023 3:17 pm Published by

As we age, so do our feet. After years of bearing your weight, keeping you balanced, and working as hard as you do, it’s no surprise if your twinkle toes have started to lose their twinkle. In fact, one in three seniors over 65 have pain, stiffness, or aches in their feet.

With proper senior foot care, you can help your feet feel more like themselves. However, it’s important to understand and identify the common foot problems that may arise so that you can get the right treatment for your aged — and lovely — feet.

5 Common Problems Found In Mature Feet

While it’s true that feet stop growing bigger once a person has reached their maximum height, a decrease in elasticity of the tendons and ligaments over time may cause an increase in the width or length of the foot. As we age, it’s normal— and expected— to see an increase in muscle weakness and bone fragility. These circumstances are often the cause of the following foot problems in senior feet:

1. Plantar Fasciitis

Plantar fasciitis is the most common foot problem for people between the ages of 40 and 60 years old. This occurs when the plantar fascia (the band of tissue from your heel to your toes) becomes inflamed. Plantar fasciitis in seniors can be caused by:

  • General wear and tear on the arch of the foot.
  • Atrophy of the heel fat pad.
  • Overuse after extended periods of underuse.

Symptoms of plantar fasciitis include heel pain or stiffness and pain in the arch of your foot. The pain may be worse when taking your first steps in the morning or after sitting for long periods. Senior foot care for plantar fasciitis symptoms can be as easy as avoiding certain strenuous activities or exercises and adding the right stretching and exercise regimens for pain relief. Keep in mind, constant foot pain should be addressed by checking in with your podiatrist.

2. Fallen Arches

Since fallen arches are acquired over time, they are also known as adult acquired flat feet. Fallen arches occur when the tendons meant to hold up the arch collapse, and are typically seen in middle-aged and older adults. 

Although some adults may not experience discomfort or pain, a fallen arch cannot offer the same support as a normal arch, which can cause fatigue. Other common symptoms of fallen arches include pain in the heel or arch area of the foot, knee and back pain, and balance problems. Depending on the severity of symptoms, proper footwear can help support the arch and provide relief.

3. Heel Pad Syndrome

If your feet feel fine in the morning, but toward the end of the day you have a lot of pain in the heel, you may be suffering from heel pad atrophy. As you age, cell turnover and collagen production slow down, and the heel pad loses elasticity. 

In addition, widening or flattening feet can also cause the heel fat pad to wear out more quickly. Since the fat pads are meant to cushion each step, worn out heel pads can become painful and make you more susceptible to balance problems and stress fractures. A common sign of heel pad syndrome is deep pain in the middle of the heel that worsens when standing or walking. Ice and rest may offer some relief for seniors, but severe cases are best treated under the care of your podiatrist.

4. Osteoarthritis

Although there are several types of arthritis that can occur in your feet, osteoarthritis is the most common. This senior foot problem is also called age-related arthritis because osteoarthritis is caused by gradual deterioration of the cartilage in the foot and ankle joints that happens as we age. Osteoarthritis symptoms include:

  • Painful, stiff, or achy joints.
  • Limited mobility.
  • Swelling.
  • Crunching noises when moving the foot or ankle.

Although osteoarthritis cannot be reversed, there are treatment plans to improve symptoms.

5. Strains and Sprains

Strains and sprains can happen to anyone. However, Seniors are at risk because flatter and wider feet make it difficult for the arch of the foot to distribute weight and impact properly. Other conditions such as osteoarthritis, diabetes, and pandemic foot can further increase this risk.

Symptoms of a sprain or strain include pain, bruising, and swelling at the site of the injury. It may be difficult (or impossible) to put weight on the injured foot. Depending on the severity of the symptoms, senior foot care for sprains and strains can range from ice and rest to needing the care of a podiatrist.

Treating Pain in Aging Feet

Although rest, ice, and proper exercises can help aging feet feel their finest, it can be difficult to determine the underlying causes of multiple symptoms. Taking care of your feet when you are older is very important since many foot problems can contribute to falls, immobility, and stress fractures. Many people live with foot pain and do not seek medical attention until the pain is severe.

Senior Foot Care Provided With Compassion

Constant foot pain is never normal and should not be ignored— especially if you’re older. Your feet deserve the best treatment so you can enjoy the later years of life to their fullest. Our podiatrists are ready to help you identify your foot problem and devise a treatment plan that works for your tried but true aged feet. Contact us to schedule an appointment today.

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