Today's baby boomers and seniors are stepping out in everything from
frisky flip-flops and hot heels to righteous running shoes and
powerful hiking boots. Footwear is no longer dictated by age, but
rather by the activity level and fashion sense of the wearer.
Still, like everything else about our bodies, our feet change
with age. Because of this, the steps we take to keep them healthy
have to adjust accordingly.
"While staying active is a great way to preserve overall health
and can positively impact foot health, aging can naturally increase
the risk of certain foot ailments," says Joseph Caporusso, DPM, a
podiatrist and president of the American Podiatric Medical
Association (APMA). "It's important to know the symptoms of
age-related foot ailments and take steps to minimize their impact on
your overall health."
APMA offers some information on common foot ailments to watch for
as you age:
While many health issues can cause arthritis, and it can affect
people of any age, those older than 50 are most prone to it. The
feet are more susceptible to this painful inflammation of the
cartilage and lining of the joints because each foot has 33 joints
-- all of which help bear the weight of the entire body every day.
Arthritic feet can lead to a loss of mobility if the condition is
not diagnosed and treated.
The causes of arthritis can range
from heredity to injuries to bacterial or viral infections that
affect the joints. Arthritis may take several forms, so if you're
experiencing foot pain, it's best to have it diagnosed by a
podiatrist. Symptoms that indicate it's time to see the doctor
Swelling in one or
Recurring pain or
tenderness in any joint.
Redness or heat in
Loss of mobility in
Stiffness in the
Skin changes such as rashes or growths.
Arthritis can be treated, but early diagnosis is important.
Treatment options may include physical therapy, exercise or
Foot-related complications are common among the nearly 26 million
Americans who have diabetes. Proper diet, exercise, medical care and
careful home management can help people with diabetes avoid the most
serious complications of the disease, including amputation.
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In addition to regular checkups with
their podiatrist, people with diabetes can reduce their risk of
complications with some basic foot care, including:
soft socks without seams that could rub or cause blisters.
Having new shoes
properly measured and fitted.
Seeing a podiatrist for treatment of
calluses, corns or warts, rather than trying to treat these
High blood pressure
Hypertension can be related to a buildup of plaque in the blood
vessels, a condition which can lead to decreased circulation in the
legs and feet. Poor circulation can lead to the development of open
wounds on the skin. Symptoms of poor circulation in the feet and
legs include cramping, sores that take a long time to heal, changes
in the color or temperature of the feet, and loss of hair on the
feet and legs.
One of the most common foot complaints, heel pain can be caused
by walking gait abnormalities, an injury, wearing poorly constructed
footwear over the long term, or being overweight.
Heel pain is often very treatable. A podiatrist can examine the
heel, and may take X-rays to rule out bone problems as the source of
the pain. Treatment may include anti-inflammatory medication,
exercise and shoe recommendations, taping or strapping, or use of
shoe inserts or orthotic devices.
To minimize risks of developing heel pain, wear shoes that fit
well and have shock-absorbent soles, rigid shanks and supportive
heel counters. Wear the proper type of shoe for the activity you'll
be doing. Warm up before exercising, and pace yourself while
participating in athletic activities.
"Foot pain does not need to be an inevitable part of growing
older," Caporusso says. "Wearing the right type of footwear for your
needs, and paying attention to foot health can help keep boomers
moving into their senior years."
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