As we age, the wear and tear, injury, and deformities of our feet slowly become more apparent. The geriatric population has a lot to deal with and may let the health of their feet go to the wayside even though it is more important then ever to take care of your feet as you age! Poor foot health can advance already declining mobility and increase pain unnecessarily. If foot problems are left untreated, it may lead to worsening or future knee, hip, and lower back problems. Below are common geriatric foot health concerns and symptoms.
No matter what your age, pain is never normal. As we age, the feet may spread and lose fatty tissue on the pads that cushion the feet in addition to the normal wear and tear that have taken place over the years. Elderly people need to frequently have their feet measured and fitted for proper fitting shoes and your podiatrist can also custom fit orthotics just for you.
While it may sound silly, keeping your nails trimmed and free from infection is big part of maintaining foot health. As we age, it may become more difficult to maintain the nails on your feet due to mobility constraints. Elderly patients may need to see their podiatrist to ensure proper nail and foot health continues. Ingrown nails can cause many problems, such as pain, redness, swelling, and infection.
While you can have foot fungus at any age, the elderly population may at risk due to several reasons. Nails are already more brittle and likely to crack, creating a way for fungus to inhabit the nails. Not being able to inspect feet properly is another way a fungus can go undetected and become a bigger problem. Treatments may be done in your podiatrists office and can include medications or laser treatments.
Peripheral neuropathy can cause loss of feeling to your feet and can be caused by a variety of things, most commonly diabetes mellitus. Symptoms will include pins and needles type tingling of the feet, numbness, and/or stabbing and shooting pains in the feet. It is important to inspect your feet regularly because the combined loss of feeling and decreased mobility leave the elderly population at an increased risk of having cuts and wounds to the feet that may go undetected. Be sure to use a mirror placed on the floor or have another person inspect your feet daily. Your podiatrist can also inspect your feet and treat your neuropathy at your exam.
Corns are areas of the foot that become thickened over time due to varying pressure placed on the foot, causes he corns to go deeper and possibly painful. There are hard and soft corns. Hard corns are typically found around the tops of the smaller toe on the outside and may be caused by poorly fitted shoes. Soft corns can be found in between your toes and remain soft because of the moistness between the toes and can become infected if left untreated. Calluses tend to be found on the bottom of your foot on the area before your toes begin. Calluses form from pressure or friction on the foot and from wearing improper fitted shoes. Treatments your podiatrist can perform include chemical treatments, fitted orthotics, trimming the thickened skin, and surgery.