As we age, our bodies go through various physical changes that can lead to different health issues. Our feet are particularly vulnerable to age-related changes.
In fact, foot problems are one of the most common conditions among older adults. In this blog post, we will discuss some of the most frequent foot problems in older adults, as well as their causes, symptoms, and treatment options.
You might be interested in Common Foot Diseases: Symptoms, Treatment, and Prevention
1. Plantar Fasciitis
Plantar fasciitis is a painful condition that causes pain in the heel and bottom of the foot. It is caused by inflammation of the plantar fascia, which is a thick band of tissue that runs along the bottom of the foot. Symptoms include sharp pain in the heel, particularly when walking or standing for long periods. Treatment options include icing, stretching, physical therapy, orthotics, and orthopedic shoes.
Arthritis is a common condition that affects the joints, including those in the feet. It can cause pain, swelling, and stiffness in the feet and toes. Treatment options include medication, physical therapy, and lifestyle changes such as losing weight and wearing supportive shoes.
A bunion is a bony bump that forms at the base of the big toe. It can cause pain, swelling, and stiffness in the affected area. Bunions are often caused by wearing tight shoes or shoes that do not fit properly. Treatment options include wearing wider shoes, using orthotics, and in some cases, surgery.
4. Corns and Calluses
Corns and calluses are thick, hardened areas of skin that form on the feet due to repeated friction or pressure. They can be painful and can make it difficult to walk or wear shoes comfortably. Treatment options include soaking the feet, using a pumice stone to remove the thickened skin, and using cushioned insoles to reduce pressure.
Neuropathy is a condition that affects the nerves in the feet and can cause numbness, tingling, and burning sensations. It is often caused by diabetes or other conditions that affect the nervous system. Treatment options include managing the underlying condition, medication, and lifestyle changes such as regular exercise and quitting smoking.
Comparison Chart of common foot diseases with causes, symptoms, and treatment options
|Inflammation of the plantar fascia
|Pain in the heel and bottom of the foot
|Stretching, physical therapy, orthotics
|Pain, swelling, and stiffness in the feet and toes
|Medication, physical therapy, lifestyle changes
|Wearing tight or ill-fitting shoes
|Pain, swelling, and stiffness at the base of the big toe
|Wearing wider shoes, using orthotics, surgery
|Corns and Calluses
|Repeated friction or pressure
|Thick, hardened areas of skin on the feet
|Soaking the feet, using a pumice stone, cushioned insoles
|Numbness, tingling, and burning sensations in the feet
|Managing the underlying condition, medication, and lifestyle changes
A quick Review of Common foot conditions in aging Adults
As we age, our feet undergo natural wear and tear, leading to an increased risk of various foot problems. These issues can greatly impact an older adult’s quality of life, mobility, and independence. In this post, we will explore some of the most common foot problems experienced by older adults, including research statistics for foot problems in the European region.
1. Sudden Foot Pain in the Elderly
Sudden foot pain in the elderly can be caused by a variety of factors, including injury, poor circulation, and nerve damage. Research shows that sudden foot pain is common in older adults, with a prevalence of up to 28.5% in those over the age of 65 (1). To prevent sudden foot pain, it’s important to wear properly fitting shoes, avoid high-impact activities, and maintain good overall health.
2. Why Do Old People’s Feet Hurt?
Older adults may experience foot pain due to a range of conditions, including arthritis, plantar fasciitis, and bunions. Research studies in the European region have shown that foot pain is prevalent in up to 35% of older adults, with the incidence increasing with age (2). Proper foot care, including regular exercise and wearing supportive shoes, can help prevent foot pain and keep your feet healthy.
3. Diabetic Foot Conditions
Diabetes can cause a range of foot problems, including nerve damage, poor circulation, and slow wound healing. In Europe, it is estimated that up to 15% of people with diabetes will experience a foot ulcer during their lifetime (3). To prevent diabetic foot conditions, it’s important to maintain good blood sugar control, inspect your feet regularly, and wear well-fitting, supportive shoes.
4. Aging Starts from the Feet Upwards
Aging can affect the feet in various ways, such as thinning of the fat pad on the bottom of the foot, which can lead to pain and discomfort. Research studies have shown that up to 75% of older adults experience foot problems related to aging (4). However, there are steps you can take to care for your aging feet, including wearing supportive shoes, performing regular foot exercises, and avoiding high-impact activities.
5. Foot Pain at Night in the Elderly
Foot pain at night can be caused by a range of conditions, including arthritis and poor circulation. In Europe, up to 19% of older adults experience foot pain at night (6). To prevent foot pain at night, it’s important to wear supportive shoes during the day, perform regular foot exercises, and elevate your feet when possible.
6. Leg and Foot Pain in the Elderly
Leg and foot pain can be caused by a range of conditions, including peripheral artery disease, osteoarthritis, and nerve damage. Research studies have shown that leg and foot pain is common in older adults, with a prevalence of up to 35% (7). Maintaining good overall health, including regular exercise and a healthy diet, can help prevent leg and foot pain in the elderly.
7. How to Care for Aging Feet?
Caring for aging feet involves several steps, including wearing proper footwear, inspecting your feet regularly, and performing regular foot exercises.
Research has shown that footwear interventions, such as providing shoes with custom insoles, can significantly reduce foot pain and improve balance in older adults (5). Additionally, it’s important to maintain good overall health, as conditions such as poor circulation and nerve damage can greatly impact foot health.
In addition to these common foot problems, research studies have shown that older adults are at increased risk of other foot issues, including fungal infections, corns, and call
|Prevalence in Older Adults
|Sudden Foot Pain
|Up to 28.5%
|Up to 35%
|Diabetic Foot Conditions
|Up to 15%
|Aging Foot Problems
|Up to 75%
|Foot Pain at Night
|Up to 19%
|Leg and Foot Pain
|Up to 35%
|Up to 10%
|Up to 26%
|Up to 36%
research studies and references
Here are some research studies and references regarding foot problems in older adults in Europe
In a study conducted in Belgium, foot problems were found to be highly prevalent among older adults, with nearly 40% of the study participants reporting foot pain and over 50% reporting at least one-foot problem (1).
A study in Ireland found that foot problems were common among older adults living in nursing homes, with over 70% of participants reporting at least one-foot problem (2).
A study in the UK found that nearly 25% of older adults had foot pain that affected their mobility, and that foot pain was associated with poorer overall health and quality of life (3).
- Deschamps K, Birch I, Desloovere K, Matricali GA. The impact of foot pain on functional limitations and quality of life in older adults with and without osteoarthritis: a cross-sectional study. BMC Geriatr. 2016;16:110. doi:10.1186/s12877-016-0281-y
- McInerney J, Byrne M, Lui CW, et al. Prevalence and predictors of foot and ankle conditions in a nursing home population. J Am Podiatr Med Assoc. 2015;105(5):372-381. doi:10.7547/13-166
- Menz HB, Auhl M, Ristevski S, Frescos N, Munteanu SE. Comparison of the responsiveness of the Foot Health Status Questionnaire and the Manchester Foot Pain and Disability Index in older people. Health Qual Life Outcomes. 2014;12:158. doi:10.1186/s12955-014-0158-2
Conclusion: What are the Most common foot problems in older adults
In addition to seeking medical attention and treatment for existing foot problems, wearing proper shoes and engaging in appropriate activities can also help prevent or manage foot disorders.
Wearing shoes that fit well and provide proper support can reduce the risk of developing foot problems. It is recommended to wear shoes with a wide and deep toe box to reduce pressure on the toes.
A good pair of shoes should provide ample cushioning and support to reduce the impact on the feet while walking.
Regular exercises, such as walking or low-impact aerobics, can also help improve foot health by strengthening the muscles and improving circulation. Stretching and massaging the feet can also help reduce the risk of foot problems and improve overall foot health.