How good foot care can help seniors stay on their toes

By Carol Higgins Taylor, Special to the BDN
Posted Aug. 02, 2012, at 2:15 p.m.

If you have sore and abused feet, putting your best foot forward can be a chore.

If your feet hurt, the rest of you isn’t too happy either. Here are three conditions that affect your feet and need your attention:

First, for diabetics, good foot care is imperative. Dr. Roy Corbin, a Bangor podiatrist, suggests carefully inspecting each foot daily for injuries that could lead to dangerous ulcers, especially if there is loss of sensation in the foot. Problems can crop up before you realize it. Keep toenails trimmed, but do so very carefully and never clip them shorter than the end of the toe. Cut straight across or lightly follow the natural curve of the toe. Use an emery board to smooth and avoid rough edges. Inspect the insides of shoes before wearing for any rough spots that develop and can lead to a sore. For soft and supple feet, use moisturizer, but avoid getting cream between the toes where the skin is very thin.

A second foot problem is arthritis, which is understandable given that each foot has 33 joints, according to the American Podiatric Medical Association, and must bear a person’s total body weight. Symptoms of arthritis in the foot include swelling of one or more joints, morning stiffness, redness or the sensation of heat in a joint, limited range of motion, skin changes and bunions.

The third problem that can cause significant foot pain is plantar fasciitis, or heel pain. “Continual stress causes small tears in the plantar fascia resulting in inflammation and eventually a heel spur. It is a painful condition,” Corbin said. There are three elements of treatment for plantar fasciitis.

  1. Reduce the inflammation with ice and ibuprofen.
  2. Protect the plantar fascia from further trauma through taping the foot, shoe inserts or wearing a shoe with a stiff shank that doesn’t bend in the middle of the arch but across the ball of the foot.
  3. Stretch and strengthen the ankle, foot, and calf muscles. If symptoms persist, you may need physical therapy.

To keep foot problems in check, talk to your doctor. For more information, visit apma.org.

Carol Higgins Taylor is director of communications at Eastern Area Agency on Aging.

http://bangordailynews.com/2012/08/02/health/how-good-foot-care-can-help-seniors-stay-on-their-toes/ printed on September 30, 2014