AllYes, even as we age, we need to protect our feet and ankles! As part of aging, we gradually have an increased risk of developing foot problems. Our circulation, nerve conduction, muscle strength, flexibility and proprioception (balance), can all be affected individually or collectively as part of normal and abnormal aging. Problem: Dry Skin As the skin ages, it can become dryer and therefore have a higher risk of developing fissures (deep cracks in the skin) which may become very painful, and even infected. Treatment The skin around your foot and ankle must be kept appropriately moisturized with a “foot moisturizer”, versus just using a standard body or hand lotion. Foot moisturizers contain ingredients designed specifically for the thicker skin on the soles of our feet. It is also important to remember to not apply moisturizers between the toes, where absorption may be diminished. Poor absorption between the toes could progress to further cracking in the web spaces and fungal infections. Problem: Wearing down of foot padding The fat padding on the soles of the feet may also wear down over time. This can lead to chronic pain, development of calluses and even wounds or ulcers. Treatment Preventing these problems, can be improved with using the proper foot gear, cushioned socks and cushioned insoles. Problem: Blood vessels thicken and stiffen Aging can affect the circulatory system of the lower extremity in many ways. The blood vessels thicken and become stiffer. This leads to slower exchange of appropriate nutrients and stagnation of waste products. As we grow older, our bodies accumulate more fat as muscle tone diminishes and overall we have less total body water. This can lead to anemia and reduced healing time when injuries occur in our feet. Most of the overall number of white blood cells stay the same as we age. However, certain white blood cells important in fighting infection, (neutrophils) decrease, and thus we have a reduced ability to fight off infection. Collectively, these factors can be associated with an increase in the risk of blood clots, (deep vein thrombosis, DVT), peripheral vascular disease, (often presenting as intermittent pain in the legs when walking), varicosities (superficial prominent veins). Treatment Having a detailed medical examination with your Podiatrist will help you lower the risks of developing these chronic problems. Problem: Changes to our nervous system The process of aging causes our nervous system to undergo unique changes. The brain and spinal cord lose nerve cells and weight (atrophy). Nerve cells may begin to pass messages more slowly than in the past, (poor conduction). Gradual deterioration of your peripheral nervous system which may be seen in diabetes, vascular problems, or other primary neurological disorders can all affect your peripheral sensations in your feet, and in certain instances, can result in diminished appropriate reflex responses. Neuropathy (disease or dysfunction of one or more peripheral nerves, typically causing numbness or weakness) can cause people with diabetes to lose the ability to perspire. Neuropathy may affect people with diabetes as well as other diseases. Diabetics can benefit from a thorough evaluation by a podiatrist to determine the exact cause and appropriate treatment before neuropathy worsens. Treatment Evaluation of the nervous system by a podiatrist for the lower extremity is very helpful. From here further testing can be done to determine the "cause" for the nerve problems. Accordingly the treatment plan can be determined to address the specific cause and symptoms. Problem: Gait and balance deterioration In a 2006 study published in The Journal of American Geriatric Society, gait (ability to walk appropriately), disorders were detected in approximately 25% of persons age 70-74 and nearly 60% of those 80-84 years old. The most common causes of gait and balance disorders include arthritis and orthostatic hypotension. However, multiple studies have also found that gait and balance disorders are multifactorial in 75% of older patients. Problems related to psychiatric issues, cardiovascular disease, infectious and metabolic disease, recent hospitalization, medication use, among others can all adversely affect a patient’s gait. Treatment Evaluation of gait and balance is an essential step in identifying persons at an increased risk of falling and preventing fractures. A team medical approach with your primary care physician and Podiatrist can help prevent problems that may occur with poor gait. Your Podiatrist can provide the most appropriate assisted device that can help older patients prevent falls. Preventing falls and the complications related to them, help diminish the overall morbidity that can develop in our elderly patient population. Dr. Kerry Becker works in our Clarksville, MD office. The information on this site is provided for your assistance only; this site does not provide podiatric advice. You should never diagnose or treat yourself for a podiatric condition based on the information provided herein, and the information is not provided for that purpose. Likewise, you should never determine that treatment is unnecessary based on this information. The information contained herein is not a substitute for podiatric care provided by a licensed podiatric professional. The information provided herein is not podiatric, medical or professional advice. This site does not create a doctor-patient relationship. Dr. Kerry Becker and Foot & Ankle Specialists of the Mid-Atlantic, LLC expressly disclaims all warranties of any kind, whether express or implied, related to any products offered for sale on this web site. Dr. Kerry Becker and Foot & Ankle Specialists of the Mid-Atlantic, LLC further expressly disclaims any product warranties of effectiveness or fitness for any particular purpose or use. You are solely responsible for your use of, or reliance on, any products offered for sale herein, and any consequences arising out of such use or reliance. In no event will Dr. Kerry Becker and Foot & Ankle Specialists of the Mid-Atlantic, LLC be liable for any damages resulting from use of or reliance on any such products, whether based on warranty, contract, tort or any other legal theory. This website, and the information contained herein, is provided to you as a service for use at your sole risk. It’s that time of year again - the weather is starting to change and the kids are returning to school. This means new classes, new school supplies, and new shoes. While children may be focused on style, there are a few other things to keep in mind when choosing a proper shoe that will help keep your child’s feet healthy and happy:
- Fit is key: Children's feet are constantly growing, typically changing every few months. A shoe that is too large or too small can cause pain, blisters, and potentially other short and long term problems. Make sure to have their feet properly measured by a professional before purchasing any foot wear. Don’t forget to bring socks when shoe hunting.
- Buy for the larger foot: Feet are rarely the exact same size. Purchase shoes fitted for the larger foot. Try to avoid shopping for shoes first thing in the morning, as feet tend to swell over the course of the day.
- Not all shoes are created equal: Especially when buying for sports, a shoe should have a sturdy heel. The shoe should also have structure, bending primarily at the ball of the foot, not the arch.
- Say no to sharing footwear: Much like adults, even though two children may measure the same size, the shape of their feet may differ, and a previously worn shoe has likely conformed to its original owner. Older shoes will also lose their support and cushioning. Sharing can also spread athlete’s foot or nail fungus.
- Shop together: Let your child participate in shopping for their shoes. This promotes healthy foot habits as they age and helps ensure a proper and comfortable fit. Try to avoid shopping online to avoid issues with fit and sizing - there is no replacement for walking in the shoes at the store to help assess comfort.
- No “break-in” needed: Childrens shoes should fit appropriately and be comfortable immediately.