Throughout our lifetime we will probably walk enough steps to take us four times around the world!
When you think that with each step we take, our foot will carry our entire body weight, then it is not surprising that our feet require a little attention, especially as we become elderly.
One of the main effects in later life is the loss of adipose tissue, (padding), in the sole of the foot. This tissue acts as a natural shock absorber and so, as it degenerates with the normal ageing process, we have less protection from the everyday stresses and strains.
Our feet are incredibly complex structures. We have 28 bones that are joined by 33 joints and more than 100 tendons.
Chronic diseases such as osteoarthritis, (mainly affects the joints), have a significant effect on the foot. It is especially important that people with diabetes pay attention to their feet, as they can be prone to both nerve and circulatory problems, which if left unchecked can have devastating consequences especially in the elderly feet.
If there is one piece of advice worth giving in relation to our feet it is…… visit your podiatrist regularly.
Most common conditions such as calluses, hard skin, in-grown toenails, hard and soft corns, fungi, etc. can be treated during your routine appointment.
Regular visits to the podiatrist will ensure that the condition of your feet is always in good hands. Minor lesions, (such as
We would definitely not recommend the use of corn plasters in the elderly. They contain very powerful acids that are thought to eliminate callosity. In many cases what they produce is a second degree burn in the healthy skin around the callus. This burn can cause severe complications especially in elderly people with poor blood supply to the feet.
A good tip to keep the skin of the foot in good condition is to moisturise daily with a cream specifically designed for the feet. Ideally, try to moisturise your feet at night. If done in the morning the foot can sweat inside the shoe and the mixture of sweat and cream can cause maceration of the skin.
Bio-mechanical assessment and bespoke orthotics.
Many older patients think that bespoke orthotics are just for an athlete or for a child and in reality that is not so. A properly indicated and designed orthotic can greatly improve the quality of life of an older patient, as it will compensate for the loss of adipose tissue, give greater stability to the gait (preventing falls) and will generate a correct distribution of pressures in the sole of the foot, avoiding pressure points that lead to calluses or other problems.
The foot is the only thing supporting us against the ground. If this support does not occur correctly, it may adversely affect other structures such as the knee, hip or spine.
Many knee conditions improve greatly when foot placement is corrected. That is why it is very important that before making any template it is necessary to perform a correct bio-mechanical assessment of gait and this study must be done by an expert in podiatry and bio-mechanics.
Edgar Villora, Podiatrist at Randell’s Footcare