Providing good senior citizen foot care involves being on the look-out for potential problems and treating those problems as soon as they develop. Many people, both senior citizens and younger individuals, tend to minimize foot problems until they become painful. One common senior citizen foot care issue that often is ignored in its early stages is the heel spur.
What are spurs?
When too much calcium gets inappropriately deposited on foot bones, this calcium creates growths called spurs; because these growths most often occur on the heel bone, they are generally called heel spurs.
Spurs usually develop when one of the ligaments becomes inflamed and starts irritating the heel bone. To protect itself from this irritation, the heel bone loads up on the calcium to create a cushion against irritation from the ligament. That may initially make the heel bone feel better, but can eventually become painful.
Spurs are not usually painful when feet are at rest, but walking may cause discomfort. Most often, spurs are most painful when a person takes his or her first few steps in the morning. Pain lessens with continued walking, but after a person rests for a while, he or she may experience pain when walking again.
Why do spurs occur?
People get spurs for a variety of reasons. Often, the shape of a foot can lead to spurs. For example, people who are flat-footed or people who have really high arches often have ligament problems that lead to spurs. Being overweight and putting undue pressure on feet can also cause spurs, as can gout and rheumatoid arthritis. Wearing shoes that don’t fit properly is also a common cause of spurs.
How are spurs treated?
The best treatment for a spur depends upon what is causing the spur. If you suffer from spurs, your doctor should give you a through foot examination; in some cases, an X-ray may be needed to determine the likely cause of the spur.
In mild cases, an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication, such as Ibuprofen, may be all that is needed to bring relief. Pain creams may also be helpful, both to relieve pain and to increase circulation to the foot.
In some cases, a doctor may recommend applying ice to the foot regularly or specific stretching exercises that can help to reduce ligament inflammation. Ifweight is an issue, the doctor may recommend a diet plan to help shed some extra pounds. Similarly, if gout is the cause, treating the gout will help treat the spur.
Orthotics (custom-made pads for your shoes that provide extra support for specific areas of the foot) are often a big help in treating spurs. This is especially true for people with flat feet. If improper footwear is causing spurs, the doctor will suggest changes in shoe selection to ensure a better fit.
Finally, if the spur is especially pronounced, surgery may be required to bring about relief.
Appropriate shoes are always a part of proper senior citizen foot care. Remember that your feet change as you age; make sure that your shoes change along with them.