Geriatric foot and ankle problems

Skin/nails

As people age, their bodies change. In the feet, the nails grow thicker, the skin gets drier and the joints get stiffer. This doesn't mean you feet have to hurt.

Many older people don't see well or have trouble reaching their feet. If these problems prevent you from giving your feet the care they need let your podiatrist help you.

Older folks often lose the padding that cushions their feet. This can lead to pain in the heel and ball of the foot. In most cases your podiatrist can make an insert that makes up for the lost padding.

PAD (Peripheral Arterial Disease)

Peripheral arterial disease (PAD) is a problem with blood flow in the arteries carrying blood to the muscles and organs in your feet and legs. PAD cuts down the blood flow to the muscles and other tissues in your feet and legs leading to risks of infection, ulcers, gangrene and amputation. Claudication is the name for the pain you feel in your arches, calves, legs or buttocks when you walk. Claudication is the most common complaint of people with PAD. The pain happens when you walk. It goes away after a few minutes of rest.

Your podiatrist may suspect that your arteries have narrowed by feeling the pulses in our feet and listening to the blood flow in them using an electronic stethoscope. Then, if you have a foot or ankle problem or need a foot surgery, he or she may do some tests to see if you have PAD or refer you to a vascular specialist.

PAD is often treated with diet and exercise, and sometimes medicine. People with PAD must stop smoking. A walking program is also very helpful. Consult your podiatrist if you have foot, ankle or leg pain. If your arteries are badly blocked, you may have difficulty healing from a foot or ankle injury or surgery.