The process of aging brings with it a myriad of changes to our body and that includes our feet! These sturdy pillars that carry us through life, are not immune to aging. Let’s delve into common foot problems that often afflict people as they age. Solutions exist for all of them, so let’s focus on maintaining healthy, resilient, happy feet.
A prevalent foot condition that affects aging adults is osteoarthritis. It is a degenerative joint disease characterized by the breakdown of cartilage. As the protective cushioning diminishes, the joints become painful, stiff, and inflamed. This hindrance decreases mobility and reduces the overall quality of life. Studies have shown that targeted exercises, such as gentle range-of-motion and strengthening routines, can reduce pain and improve joint flexibility. The more movement in the foot, the more fluids are able to circulate. When the fluids circulate, it acts like oil on rusty parts, making it easier to move, and less painful to go about day-to-day activities.
Peripheral neuropathy, a common result of aging, is a nerve disorder that impacts sensation in the feet and legs. Diabetic neuropathy, in particular, is prevalent among seniors with diabetes. This condition leads to reduced foot sensitivity and an increased risk of injuries. Checking your feet daily, wearing appropriate footwear, and practicing meticulous foot care are ways to prevent complications like foot ulcers and infections. In short, being aware of your feet with your other senses, outside of touch, will be the key to preventing and maintaining healthy feet with this condition, and many others.
Bunions and Hammertoes
Another common issue aging adults may encounter is foot deformities, like bunions and hammertoes. These structural irregularities can result from a lifetime of mechanical stress and poorly fitted footwear. The good news is, healing can happen when addressing the patient’s current shoe choices! Making the changes in footwear will alleviate the pain using orthotics as well. Another way to actively help the foot is by performing foot-strengthening exercises. This can alleviate discomfort and prevent further progression of deformities.
Bone spurs, also known as osteophytes, are bony projections that often develop on the edges of bones, including those in the feet! As we age, the wear and tear on our bones and cartilage can lead to the formation of these spurs. To prevent and manage bone spurs, it’s essential to adopt a proactive approach. Increasing joint health through maintaining a lower weight as well as regular low-impact exercises can be an easy fix. Low-impact exercises can include swimming or cycling. These activities also promote joint flexibility and strengthen supporting muscles, further aiding against bone spur formation. You can read more about overall bone health here.
Taking Care of Your Feet
Supportive footwear with extra cushioning can give your feet the love they deserve while keeping those spurs from causing trouble. If symptoms of bone spurs do arise, seeking immediate medical attention is important. A healthcare professional can provide tailored treatment options. Such options can include pain management, physical therapy, and, if necessary, surgical intervention, to help maintain joint function and enhance overall mobility.
Embracing the golden years with healthy and resilient feet is a journey well worth undertaking. Armed with scientific evidence and a proactive mindset, aging adults can tackle common foot diseases head-on by preventing and maintaining healthy feet. By incorporating gentle exercises, meticulous foot care, appropriate footwear choices, and regular medical check-ups, seniors and their support team can nurture their feet’s well-being and stride confidently into this new chapter of life. As we celebrate the milestones of age, let us remember that caring for our feet is not just an act of self-preservation but an expression of love and appreciation for the remarkable mechanisms that have carried us through a lifetime of memories and adventures.