Many people think about foot problems as something that only occurs due to injury or a genetic problem, but the fact is that nobody is immune to certain problems with their feet. In fact, the older you get, the more likely you are to experience certain foot problems. Here are some of the most common problems that can develop over time and some tips to help you effectively manage them.
As you get older, you're more likely to develop arthritis. Because this is a problem that directly affects your joints, your feet are not immune. There are many different joints in your feet, which are all susceptible to suffering from arthritis pain. You can help to reduce your risk and manage the discomfort by staying active and healthy and keeping your body weight down. In addition, if you start to experience pain in your feet that you believe may be arthritis-related, see your podiatrist. He or she can rule out any other problems.
Many of the health conditions that develop due to aging, including vascular diseases and vein problems, can lead to a reduction in the blood circulation in your feet. Since poor circulation can lead to serious complications, including neuropathy, it is important that you monitor your feet for proper circulatory response and see a podiatrist if you have any reason to believe that there could be a problem. Wearing compression socks can help you to maintain better blood flow as well.
As you age, your body's ligaments will start to loosen and stretch. When the ligaments in your feet do this, the arch in your foot may actually flatten out. As that arch flattens, it can cause pain and persistent aches in your foot. If you shift your gait to try to compensate for that discomfort, you may find that you become less stable on your feet, leading to the risk of ankle and foot injuries. Talk with your podiatrist about the possibility of adding arch supports or other tools to help you compensate for this lost arch so that you can maintain your posture properly.
As you get older, the natural hydration of your body's tendons, especially those in the feet, will start to decline. This causes the tendons to stiffen due to dehydration. That tightening will put the tendons at a greater risk of tearing or suffering other similar damage. You can help to reduce your risk of this by staying as active as possible and wearing supportive, cushioned shoes.
Particularly for women who wear high heels for many years, toe deformation is a serious concern. The tight, constrained design of many shoes can cause the smaller toes on your feet to actually bend, and the longer they are subjected to this type of environment, the greater your chances that the bends may not be reversible. You can minimize your risk of this by swapping out those pointed-toe shoes for wider ones, allowing your toes more room to sit properly.
The layer of fat and tissue on the bottom of your feet provides some natural cushion when you step. As you age, this layer starts to wear down. The thinner it gets, the more discomfort you are likely to experience when you're walking, especially if you spend a lot of time on your feet during the day. Although there is no way to prevent this from happening, your podiatrist may be able to recommend gel or other cushioned insoles that you can put in your shoes to help compensate for it. You should get them from your podiatrist, though, because he or she can evaluate your feet and have insoles created that actually adapt to your specific foot condition.
For more information, contact a foot doctor at a medical facility like Carolina Foot & Ankle Specialists.