Keep Your Feet in Good Condition As You Age
People rarely think about their feet until a problem arises, and they then realize how important good foot care is to everyday movement and overall health. As the years pass, feet can suffer more from poorly fitting shoes, neglect of nails or systemic diseases that affect circulation in the feet. You can keep your feet healthy by giving them specific care, and keeping up with your podiatrist, as part of your total health care regime.
Arch problems are common in people over the age of 40. The effects of gravity, combined with weaker muscles combine to cause pain in heels, within arches or at the top of the foot. Arch supports can help to reduce the discomfort from heel and arch pain. Special exercises for the foot can also help to strengthen muscles and improve flexibility. If necessary, a podiatrist, a doctor who specializes in foot diseases, can create an orthotic corrective device specifically for your feet.
Bunions are bony growths that generally occur at the base of the big toe on the inside of the foot. They are caused by the continued rubbing of this area of the foot against the inside of the shoe. Bunions can occur at any age but usually worsen as people get older. They may be very painful because they receive the weight of the foot with each footstep. Bunions often run in families because of the structure of the foot. Women may be more prone to developing bunions because they often wear shoes with pointed toes. Splints, pads or specially designed shoes may be necessary to correct bunion problems. Surgery may be done as a last resort to deal with chronic pain.
Hammertoe is a condition in which the middle joint of the toe becomes bent into a curled position. It is caused by ill-fitting shoes and the rubbing of the upper part of the toe against the inside of the shoe. Hammertoes may be fixed or flexible. Pain medications, properly fitting shoes and custom-fitted orthotics may be necessary to treat this condition. Surgery may be needed to remove small sections of bone to re-align the toe.
Ingrown nails occur when the sides of the nail curl and puncture the skin around the nail. This can cause extreme pain and disability in walking. To treat the problem, soak the foot in warm water and carefully trim the nail straight across. Keep feet and nails scrupulously clean. If necessary, see a doctor to treat infections that may occur. Nail fungus is another problem that can cause yellowing, flaking and thickening. Fungus of the toenails can be unsightly and can cause social embarrassment. Topical anti-fungal medications, oral medications and laser treatments can help to eliminate nail fungus problems.
Diabetes Foot Care
If you have been diagnosed with diabetes and take medications to regulate your blood sugar, your physician may also advise you on proper foot care. People with diabetes are particularly prone to foot problems that can lead to serious medical problems. Your doctor may check your feet at each visit to ensure good circulation. Keep your feet and nails scrupulously clean. Wear socks and shoes at all times to protect your feet. Don’t smoke, because it affects blood flow to the extremities. Consult your doctor about cuts that won’t heal, rashes, infections or any other problem with your feet.
Regular Foot Care
Taking the time to give your feet the care they require can go a long way toward keeping them healthy and functioning well.
- Wash and carefully dry feet after bathing.
- Integrate nail care into your daily grooming routine.
- Only wear shoes that fit well and provide the right support for your needs.
- See a podiatrist about foot problems before problems become worse.
- Use orthotic devices when necessary.
- If you are diabetic, see your physician about wounds, rashes or other problems with your feet as soon as possible.