seniors foot pain

8 Common Foot issues in Seniors & What to Do About It

As we age, we tend to focus on the superficial things, like wrinkles. But aging affects all parts of the body, including our feet. Most of us neglect our feet. They spend most of their time underneath socks and inside shoes, so we rarely see or pay attention to them – until something goes wrong.

Seniors battle with a variety of issues that affect their feet. The good news? Seniors can take steps to prevent many of these issues before they become a serious problem. Here are eight of the most common foot issues in seniors and what you can do about it to help find relief.

1. Arthritis

Did you know that your feet have more than 30 joints? Like in other areas of your body, the joints in your feet can degenerate with age.

Most seniors experience arthritis in the midfoot joints or the big toe. Pain and stiffness are the most common symptoms, which tend to worsen at night.

Arthritis can also develop in the knees and hips, which can trickle down to the feet.

What You Can Do About It

Exercise is one way to help improve arthritis and its pain and stiffness. Staying active will increase flexibilty and strength, which reduces joint pain. You don’t need to run or lift weights, but the simple act of walking, gentle yoga or doing calf raises can help keep pain to a minimum.

2. Toe Curling (a.k.a. Hammertoes)

Hammertoes – not something we want to wind up with. Yet it’s a common problem among seniors, particularly women.

Cramming your feet into high heels puts you at much greater risk of developing hammertoes. This condition starts as mild pain, but eventually develops into calluses and corns when your feet, now crooked, push up against your shoes.

What You Can Do About It

If you plan to wear heels, try wearing well-fitting flats or a good pair of running shoes during the day to give your feet as much support as possible before you heading out for the evening.

Cover calluses and corns with padding, and opt for shoes with wider toe boxes.

3. Lack of Cushioning

Collagen and elastin create cushioning for our feet, and those cushions are stuffed with fat on the bottoms of our feet. But as we age, collagen production decreases significantly, which gradually starts to thin out the fat on the bottoms of our feet.

Your feet may feel fine in the morning, but as the day goes on, your feet start to hurt because you’re walking – essentially – on your foot bones.

What You Can Do About It

Just like the cushioning on coccyx cushions help alleviate back pain. You should consider investing in a cushioned and comfortable pair of shoes with gel pads or reinforced soles. Fat injections is another option, but there is still no proof that this is an effective solution.

4. Tight Tendons

Our tendons hold less water as we age, which causes stiffness in our ankles and other parts of the foot.

When the water content of our tendons reduces, we become at greater risk for ruptures and tears, doctors say.

What You Can Do About It

One of the best ways to prevent tight tendons is to stay active. Strengthening exercises, like calf raises, are a great way to keep your tendons loose and healthy.

5. Stretched Ligaments

While our tendons tighten as we age, our ligaments stretch over time. How does this affect your feet? Stretched ligaments can cause our arches to ache and put us at risk of becoming flat footed.

To make matters worse, the signal your body normally sends to your brain when your ligaments overstretch starts to go haywire. In other words, your brain doesn’t really get the memo that the ligaments in your ankles and feet have overstretched. This can throw you off balance, which makes you more vulnerable to ankle sprains and other injuries.

What You Can Do About It

Exercise is a great way to help prevent overstretching of your ligaments. Toe raises and ankle circles are two great exercises for strength.

6. Dry Skin

We know that declining collagen production eventually erodes your foot’s natural cushioning. But it also causes your skin to sag and dry out. As a result, your feet wind up more prone to cracking and dryness.

What You Can Do About It

One simple solution to prevent dry skin is to stay hydrated. Also, make sure that you’re applying a good moisturizer twice a day to keep the skin on your feet hydrated.

7. Bunions

Bunions are one of the most common foot issues seniors experience as they age. Bunions are a bony growth or a misaligned bone at either the base of the small toe or the big toe.

Over time, the toe may start bending abnormally towards your smaller toes.

What You Can Do About It

One way to avoid bunions is to maintain a healthy weight, which will put less pressure on your feet.

A gel-filled or moleskin pad can also help ease pain while possibly preventing the bunion from getting progressively worse.

Your doctor may also recommend wearing a splint at night to keep the toe straight and eventually ease your discomfort.

8. Heel Spurs

Excess pressure on the feet can eventually lead to calcium deposits in the heels. These deposits are called heel spurs and can cause serious pain for seniors. The pain may manifest during the day, but is most prominent when walking or doing more strenuous activities.

What You Can Do About It

Heel pads and other supportive devices can help alleviate pain while preventing the spurs from progressing.

Seniors who have yet to experience foot issues can help prevent future problems by protecting their feet. The first and most important thing is to wear comfortable and supportive shoes. Tight, high-heeled shoes put pressure on the feet, which can lead to calluses and corns. If necessary, gel pads or shoe inserts should be used to add support while improving comfort.

Exercise is also essential to preventing foot issues, but staying active doesn’t mean running marathons or lifting heavy weights. Walking and stretching are two great ways for seniors to stay limber and active without putting themselves at great risk for injury.