As you age, your body undergoes many changes. Your feet have endured a lifetime of carrying you from place to place, running, jumping and constantly moving. Over time, tissues begin to break down and conditions like arthritis become more common.
If you've had foot problems in the past, you may begin to experience more intense foot pain and discomfort. There are several things you can do to make your feet more comfortable and live relatively pain-free.
One of the most common occurrences as a person ages is the structure of their feet may change. As the tendons and ligaments lose their elasticity, the shape of the foot may widen or flatten out. This can cause the size of the shoes you normally wear to change as well.
If you begin to notice that your shoes don't feel the same, you should have your feet resized each time you buy a new pair of shoes. The changes are gradual and you may not be able to tell a difference simply by looking at your foot.
Thick, Brittle Toenails
Thick toenails that become brittle and discolored are often the result of a foot fungus. If you wear your shoes for long periods of time without allowing your feet to "air out" occasionally, you may be creating the perfect environment for toenail fungus to grow.
It's also important that you maintain proper hygiene rituals as you age. It can become more difficult to get in and out of the bathtub as we age, making it more difficult to keep our feet clean and bacteria free. Washing your feet every day removes bacteria and fungus before they can become a major problem.
Aging has an effect on all of the tissues in the body, including the skin. The older we get, the less collagen and elastin our bodies produce. Collagen and elastin are the two components in our skin that make it elastic or flexible. When the production of these components decreases, the skin can become thin and dry.
The same is true for the skin that covers your feet. The skin on your heels may begin to become rough and dry, causing cracks that, if deep enough, may result in bleeding. The skin between your toes may start to crack as well. Keeping your feet clean and moisturized will help to reduce the dryness and prevent cracks from forming.
Deterioration of Connective Tissues
Just as the amount of collagen and elastin affects the skin, it can also have an impact on the connective tissues in the body. The tendons and ligaments throughout the body may become less elastic, causing your joints to become stiff and irritated. This can result in inflammation and chronic pain that's often associated with arthritis and degenerative bone disease.
While some deterioration is natural and will occur with or without you trying to stop it, you can keep your bones and connective tissues healthy with regular exercise. Remaining active reduces the effects of aging on the body.
The fatty tissues that cushions along the balls of your feet and around the heel are also victims of the aging process. The older we get the harder it becomes for our body to maintain fat deposits. Part of the reason for this is the gradual deterioration of certain types of tissues.
Another reason is that we often don't eat properly, causing our bodies to use the fats we have stored in various parts of the body. The older we get, the more important it is to eat the proper foods and get the calories we need to allow our bodies to function efficiently.
If you begin to notice subtle changes in your feet or are experiencing more pain and discomfort, schedule a consultation with a New Hampshire podiatrist at Nagy Footcare to perform a thorough examination and provide you with the answers you need.
Foot pain and discomfort doesn't have to be a way of life. Discuss your options with Dr. Nagy and allow him to help you get back on track. Getting older doesn't mean you have to slow down.
The majority of foot problems people experience with age are easily treated. With proper foot care, a healthy diet and positive outlook, you can remain active and pain-free for many years to come!
At Nagy Footcare, our best day is when you wake up with no foot pain.