Taking Care of Foot Arthritis

July 21, 2014
Good senior citizen foot care addresses arthritis issues.

Good senior citizen foot care addresses arthritis issues. (Image courtesy Praisaeng/FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

Arthritis impacts a person’s ability to get around as freely and comfortably as he or she may want. Learning how to deal with the pain of foot arthritis is important for those affected by it.

What is arthritis?

The term arthritis is a catch-all that covers many different conditions that cause damage to or deterioration of the joints.  Osteoarthritis is the most common kind of arthritis, and it comes about from continual wear and tear to the joint cartilage over time.  (Joint cartilage is the soft tissue that resides between joints.)  Another common form is rheumatoid arthritis, which causes irritation in the lining of the joints.

Tips for care

In addition to annually visiting an appropriate doctor (such as a podiatrist), senior citizens with foot arthritis should consider taking the following steps:

  • Make appropriate shoe choices.  Shoes should be comfortable and offer adequate support, especially to the arch.  Avoid high heels, as they place undue pressure on the balls of the feet.
  • Work the tendons. Stretching the tendons, especially the Achilles tendon (the tendon at the back of the foot), helps dampen the effects of arthritis. Seniors should very GENTLY stretch and not overdo it; even just wiggling the toes occasionally can help.
  • Try capsaicin.  An ingredient called capsaicin is thought to have an effect on the pain caused by foot arthritis, so finding a cream with capsaicin in it and rubbing it into the aches of the foot helps many people.
  • Try over-the-counter meds.  After checking with a doctor, try some basic anti-inflammatory drugs (though not ones that are steroid-based): aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen, etc.  These can provide some relief from typical arthritis pain.
  • Watch the weight.  If a person is overweight, shedding a few pounds is one of the best things he or she can do to help alleviate arthritis foot pain.
  • Go orthotic.  Many people find that orthotics – such as pads inserted into the shoe that help provide shape and support – can help with misalignment and ease foot arthritis pain.  Some people benefit from inserts bought in the store, but others may be better off with inserts specially designed for their own feet.

As with all things related to care and treatment, it’s best to check with a doctor before trying any of these options.

Proper senior citizen foot care can help alleviate foot arthritis symptoms, and may be beneficial in treating or preventing other common foot issues. It’s worth trying to help make mobility easier and more comfortable.


American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society

Writer, Craig Butler

Craig Butler has been writing on a wide range of topics for more than fifteen years. As the National Communications Director for the Cooley's Anemia Foundation, Craig regularly writes on a range of health and medical topics. Among the many projects he has written for the Foundation is the Cooley's Anemia Storybook, a collection of original short stories for children with the blood disorder Cooley's Anemia. His freelance work has ranged from reviewing moves and CDs to creating entertainment-related stories about baldness, to creating text for comic strips. Craig looks forward to having a dialogue with you about senior care and issues of concern.

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