(NewsUSA) – Many people assume that it is a normal part of the aging process, but no one should resign themselves to foot pain. According to the The American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA), some foot problems are hereditary, but many others result from cumulative neglect and abuse. Gaining weight can affect bone and ligament structure. In fact, women suffer four times more foot problems than men, and a lifetime of wearing high heels can leave a painful legacy.
Normal wear and tear alters foot structure. With age and use, feet spread and lose cushioning. According to the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics, one-sixth of nursing home patients need assistance to walk, while another one-fourth cannot walk. Seeking professional treatment for foot pain can help senior citizens enjoy a higher quality of life, not to mention increased mobility and independence.
"Foot pain can limit a senior citizen's ability to participate in social activities or work," said Dr. Ross Taubman, president of the APMA. "Even worse, foot problems can lead to debilitating knee, hip and lower back pain."
Podiatric physicians serve in foot clinics, nursing homes and hospitals across the country, where they help keep older patients on their feet. The APMA offers these tips to older Americans hoping to walk pain-free:
- Remeasure your feet every time you buy new shoes. Feet expand with age, so you can't assume that your shoe size will remain constant. Shop for shoes in the afternoon -; feet swell through the day.
- Keep walking. Feet strengthen with exercise, and walking is the best exercise for your feet.
- Choose your legwear carefully. Don't wear stockings with seams. Never wear constricting garters or tie your stockings in knots.
- Bathe your feet daily in lukewarm water. Use a mild soap that contains moisturizers. After washing your feet, pat them dry and massage them with lotion. Inspect your feet for redness, swelling and cracks or sores, which require a doctor's attention. Do not cut off corns, and only trim nails straight across.
- See a podiatrist at least once a year. For more information, visit APMA's Web site atwww.apma.org.