Geriatric Foot Problems | Orthopaedics | Loyola Medicine

Geriatric Foot Problems

Overview and Facts about Geriatric Foot Problems

Geriatric foot problems are classified as orthopedic conditions - primarily caused by the aging process. Over time the skin can lose elasticity and moisture, the bones can become brittle, and cartilage can harden – leaving the joints less flexible. All of these factors contribute to geriatric foot problems, which can manifest in a variety of ways and cause both discomfort and decreased mobility.

Signs and Symptoms of Geriatric Foot Problems

There are six conditions generally categorized as geriatric foot problems:

The signs and symptoms of these can include:

  • Pain – ranging from mild to severe while walking or sitting
  • Dry skin
  • Brittle nails
  • Feelings of burning and tingling in the feet
  • Coldness, numbness, and discoloration in the feet

Each of the above conditions can, however, exhibit more specific symptoms as well.

Causes and Risk Factors of Geriatric Foot Problems

The majority of geriatric foot problems are caused by the cumulative effect of poor foot hygiene. The risk factors for geriatric foot problems are specific to the particular condition:

  • Arthritic foot problems. Weak bones, gout, and rheumatoid arthritis are common causes for arthritis foot issues
  • Bunions. Wearing shoes that do not fit properly for extended periods of time, arthritis and gout can also cause bunions
  • Corns and calluses. Wearing shoes that fit poorly can cause friction between the skin and shoes can create the extra skin on the sole
  • Hammertoes. Joints lose flexibility over time due to aging, and hammertoes can result from tension in the muscles and tendons in the toe joints
  • Heel pain. Flat feet or an overly arched foot can cause chronic heel pain and inflammation, which worsens as people age
  • Ingrown toenails. Not trimming nails properly, wearing shoes that don’t fit properly, previous toe injuries and infections can all cause ingrown toenails

Tests and Diagnosis of Geriatric Foot Problems

Because the signs are normally on the surface, most geriatric foot problems can be diagnosed from just a physical examination and discussion of symptoms with a doctor. If gout is suspected, the doctor may perform a joint fluid or blood test to confirm that diagnosis. Imaging tests, such as an X-ray, can also provide insight into the nature of any internal deformities.

Treatment and Care for Geriatric Foot Problems

If you are suffering from geriatric foot problems, a podiatrist can help you treat your conditions. Treatment will depend on the exact problem, but getting foot care as soon as you suspect something might be wrong can help increase daily comfort, limit the possibility of having additional medical issues, lower your chances for hospitalization due to infection, and also lower your need for intensive care in the future.