9 Most Common Foot Problems in Patients Over 40

Foot problems are not age specific, they can happen to anyone, but there are conditions that seem to show up more often for those that are over 40. Today we will discuss the 9 most common foot problems that patients over 40 tend to experience, what causes them, treatment options, and prevention methods. Life in your 40s is wonderful, but if we can learn about potential conditions that come with this age range, we can be more proactive in prevention and treatment.

9 Most Common Foot Problems in Patients Over 40      

Gout- Gout is a condition that occurs from the buildup of uric acid mainly around the big toe joint.  People with gout will experience a red hot toe and sensations that feels like pins and needles.  Certain foods and beverages increase the potential of having a gout flare up. If you can minimize these foods, you can help prevent a flare up. Treatment of gout includes an anti-inflammatory and diet change.  Gout is most common in men between the ages of 40-50 and post menopausal women.

Calluses- Callus build-up can be caused by friction from shoes or how one walks, but it can also be caused by a reduction in estrogen levels which impacts the body’s ability to maintain moisture. Calluses can be treated with urea foot moisturizers, pumice stones, and manual debridement.

Metatarsalgia– Metatarsalgia is pain in the ball of your foot that is sharp, achy or a burning sensation.  This condition can be caused by several different factors including, excess weight putting pressure on your metatarsals, stress fractures, Morton’s neuroma, and even by loss of fat on the bottom of our feet.  Treatment can range from rest with icing the foot, wearing shock-absorbing insoles, or using non-invasive treatments like ECSW Therapy or MLS Laser Therapy .

Heel Pain– When you experience heel pain it could be from heel spurs or plantar fasciitis. Heel spurs are bony protrusions that form at the front of your heel. These bony growths are caused by calcium deposits. They are often treated with cold compresses, medication, and sometimes surgery. Plantar Fasciitis is another common condition in those over 40. It starts with a sharp or stabbing pain with your first steps out of bed in the morning, which may be when your pain is the worst. After walking around for awhile, the pain may decrease. The pain may also be present with long periods of standing or after getting up from a seated position. Treatment includes stretches, splints, medication, orthotics or ECSW Therapy.

Ingrown Toenails- When the toenail grows inward toward the skin it creates what we call, an ingrown toenail.  Ingrown toenails can be genetic, caused by trauma or by improper nail trimming. Often when the nail grows into the skin, the toe can become red, tender and even infected. Treatment varies on the severity of the ingrown nail. You can help prevent them by wearing properly fitting shoes and cutting your nails straight across.

Bunions- When you see someone with a large toe that is bending inward and over (or under) their second toe, they have what is called a bunion. Bunions occur when a bony bump forms on the joint at the base of the big toe, and then pushes it against the next toe. The main causes of bunions are wearing tight shoes, foot stress, and arthritis. The main symptoms are bone deformity, pain, and stiffness. Treatments include changing shoes, padding the foot, and pain medications. Painful bunions can be removed surgically.

Hammer toes- A hammer toe is a toe that is deformed, with the end of the toe bending downwards. It usually affects the second, third or fourth toe, and appears to look like a claw. A corn may form on the top of the toe, and a callus may form underneath it. It may be caused by a muscle imbalance or by poorly fitting shoes, when toes are unable to be fully extended. A flexible hammer toe can be manually straightened out while a rigid hammer toe cannot be pulled straight. Treating a hammer toe before it becomes “fixed” in position is essential. Orthotics, splints, or wearing shoes with roomy toe-boxes may help non-severe cases of hammer toe. In severe cases, surgery may be performed.

Claws toes- Having a claw toe refers to the “clawing” down motion of the toe. This position of the toe often causes painful calluses. A claw toe can be caused by poorly fitting shoes, trauma, or nerve damage from conditions such as diabetes or alcoholism. Treatment includes changing your shoes and stretching and exercising your toes. Without treatment, the condition can become permanent.

Osteoarthritis-  Osteoarthritis is when the cartilage of a joint begins to break down and eventually is lost. The lack of cartilage leads to pain and the grinding of joints. This is a disease that affects millions of Americans. It is considered a wear-and-tear disease due to repetitive use. It can also occur from trauma and abnormal foot mechanics, but in most cases it is the first cause. Thankfully there are several methods for managing this disease.

As you can see, many of these conditions can be prevented through the action of wearing properly fitting shoes and being proactive about your podiatry care. If you notice something different about your feet, how they feel or how they look, don’t put it off. Schedule an appointment with your podiatrist and talk to them about your concerns before it become unmanageable. If you don’t have a podiatrist, your primary care physician can refer you one. Dr. John D. Hollander is accepting referrals and would be happy to discuss your concerns. Give us a call today at our Santa Rosa office (707) 578-1222.