Old Soles: The Effects of Aging on the Feet


As we grow older, we experience change throughout our bodies. This change is especially evident in our feet. Read on to learn about some of the most common problems that aging creates in the feet and what you can do to combat them.




What is it? Arthritis is a disease that causes inflammation in the joints. Because there are more than 30 joints in your feet, if you develop arthritis, it is likely to appear in your feet as well as throughout your body. Symptoms may include stiffness in the morning, pain on standing or walking, or a reduced range of motion. You may also experience foot pain if arthritis elsewhere in the body causes you to alter your stance or gait to compensate.


What can you do about it? Arthritis symptoms are eased with over the counter and prescription medications, as well as strengthening exercises.




What is it?  When a toe muscle weakens and puts pressure on the toe’s tendons and joints, the toe protrudes up at the joint rather than lying flat in line with the others. This deformity is called a hammertoe.  They are most often seen in the second toe or the smallest toe. 


What can you do about it? Prevent hammertoes by saving your stilettos for special occasions and wearing more practical, comfortable shoes on a regular basis. New shoes might help your hammertoe, but for severe conditions it’s possible that surgery might be the best option.


Foot Discomfort


What is it?  Babies’ little feet are pudgy because they are naturally cushioned by pads made of a combination of collagen, elastin, and adipose. Unfortunately, those cushions thin as you age. This can lead to pain when standing or walking, especially as the day wears on.


What can you do about it? Gel pads, inserts, and custom orthotics prescribed by a podiatrist are all effective solutions to the loss of natural cushioning.


Dry Skin


What is it? The same collagen that helps cushion your feet also helps keep your skin soft and supple. As you age, your body’s supply of collagen dries up, making skin dry and flaky.


What can you do about it? Fight dry skin by using a moisturizer twice a day. Be sure to focus on your heels, where cracks can occur.


Peripheral Arterial Disease


What is it? Circulation to your feet and extremities can be negatively affected by diabetes and a variety of other conditions that are common with age. This may cause your feet to feel cold easily. Small nicks and cuts may take longer to heal than they once did, or even turn into a wound that won’t heal.


What can you do about it? PAD is especially prevalent in smokers, who experience the condition sooner, more often, and more severely than people who don’t smoke. Please consider cutting down or quitting entirely.


The single best thing that you can do to take care of your feet as you get older is to establish a relationship with a podiatrist like Dr. James M. McKee. Your foot doctor is the most qualified professional to take care of your feet. He will be attentive to changes, diagnose concerns, and treat issues. Call Podiatry Group of Annapolis, P.A. at 410-224-4448 or click here to request anappointment to see James M. McKee, DPM, FACFAS in our comfortable Annapolis, MD office.  He will examine your feet and make a plan with you to keep them feeling great for years to come.