As we age, our bodies begin to slow down. Certain medical conditions become more common and the risk for injury increases. This article will explore common foot conditions in the elderly and offer suggestions for when to consult a podiatrist in Manhattan.
Skin tends to become less elastic and drier in the elderly. This can lead to dry, cracked heels which are often painful. Applying moisturizing lotion, keeping your skin clean and dry, and wearing shoes and socks, especially when outside will help to protect your heels. If the skin begins to show signs of inflammation such as redness, warmth, swelling or increasing pain contact your doctor.
Ulcers are often caused by diabetes, poor circulation, or slow-healing breaks in the skin. Be sure to check your feet regularly and see a Manhattan podiatrist if you notice any blisters that aren’t healing. If left untreated ulcers can develop into severe infections requiring amputation.
Fungal infections are common in elderly patients with a weakened immune system. Be sure to inspect your feet regularly and keep them clean and dry.
As bones wear down, patients often experience decreased range of motion along with pain. This condition, known as arthritis, is usually chronic and progressive. There are several types of arthritis typically accompanied by swelling as the joint and surrounding tissue becomes inflamed. Often physical therapy, steroid injections, or prescription medications can help to slow the progression of arthritis.
Mature bones tend to be more brittle. The risk for stress fractures increases with age and weight gain. They are often treated with rest, a walking boot or brace, and over-the-counter pain medication. If your fracture is more severe you may need a cast to protect the bone as it heals.
Tendon and Ligament Conditions
Weakened tendons can increase your risk of tendonitis. A weakened Achilles tendon (at the back of the heel) is at risk for Achilles tendonitis, a painful condition that may require surgery if left untreated. Achilles tendonitis is characterized by tightness, pain, swelling, and limited range of motion. If the injury is minor, rest, ice, supportive shoes, and over-the-counter pain medication may be sufficient. A Manhattan podiatrist can evaluate your injury to determine if you need more substantial treatments.
The plantar fascia is a ligament running along the sole of your foot. As it weakens with age, it can be stressed and inflamed causing painful plantar fasciitis. Orthotic inserts can help support the fascia and reduce pain.
Other Foot Conditions in the Elderly
Feet have natural fat pads for cushion. These fat pads can atrophy as we age. This results in increased pain with the normal pressure that comes with walking. Soft inserts or custom-made orthotics can help to support the foot and decrease pain.
Ingrown toenails are more common in the elderly. They occur when the toenail begins to grow into the skin causing pain and increasing the risk for infection. In severe cases, medical attention may be necessary.
Many of these foot conditions common in the elderly are treated easily at home by keeping your feet clean, dry, and free from injury. As we age, our bodies begin to wear down. Your local Manhattan podiatrist at Best Foot Doctor NY is ready to support you along each step of your journey.