Recently, ARC Podiatrist Kenneth L. Cornell, DPM, FACFAS sat down with Livestrong.com to discuss the changes our feet go through as we age. What changes can you expect in aging feet, exactly, and why?
Overuse: The most common foot issue is caused by overuse and the way your feet change over time. "As we age, our feet tend to have less elasticity — our arches become weaker and tissue becomes less elastic," he says. "When there is less elasticity, you're more likely to suffer arthritis or overuse injury and, therefore, foot pain."
Plantar Fasciitis: A condition caused by injury to the plantar fascia, the ligament that connects your heel to the front of your foot and acts as arch support. When the plantar fascia is strained and inflamed, it can cause heel and arch pain. "The best way to prevent plantar fasciitis and many other foot pain issues is to find shoes that fit correctly and have the right amount of support," Dr. Cornell says.
Arthritis: This typically occurs because our arches weaken over time, paving the way for joint strain and pain. Ankle arthritis, which is a form of osteoarthritis, occurs when the cartilage of the ankle joint wears thin and breaks down over time. "Like [with] plantar fasciitis, wearing shoes with great arch support should help, as well as stretching," Dr. Cornell says. "However, if pain persists, surgery might be necessary."
Flat Feet: Adult-acquired flat feet occurs when the foot starts turning out as the tendons, which are meant to hold up the arch, begin to weaken. Regular stretching and wearing supportive shoes can be helpful, but if your pain doesn't go away, Dr. Cornell recommends talking to your doctor to determine if surgery may be necessary.
Bunions: A protrusion on the side of the big toe that occur when some of the bones in the front part of your foot move out of place. "Bunions can worsen as we age because our feet get wider and arch height decreases," he says. "As the tissues relax, the bunion gets larger." To prevent bunions from getting worse, it's best to wear comfortable shoes with adequate arch support, wide toe boxes and to avoid pointy-toed shoes, Dr. Cornell says.
Hammertoe: When the toe (often the second one) moves up and out of position. "Sometimes pressure from a bunion could cause hammertoe, but it's more often caused by wearing shoes that are too narrow or don't fit well," he says. "Wearing high heels can aggravate this condition by pushing the toes into the shoe."
Morton's Neuroma: A benign growth of nerve tissue, usually around the third and fourth toes, according to the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA). It's sometimes called a pinched nerve or nerve tumor, and can create a burning sensation, tingling or numbness between the toes while walking, Dr. Cornell says.
The Best Podiatrist-Approved Shoes to Buy
Dr. Cornell says you're at higher risk for the above conditions as you age, which is why investing in supportive, quality footwear is crucial. "Many foot conditions can be prevented by wearing proper footwear and, when needed, orthotic inserts," he says. "Common foot conditions that occur as we age, such as bunions, neuromas, hammertoes, and calluses, can be prevented by choosing shoes that fit correctly and by avoiding high heels."
Make an appointment today
If you would like to make an appointment with Dr. Cornell, do so online or by calling ARC Round Rock at 512-244-9024.