The Orthopedic Foot & Ankle Problems of Aging

Patients who experience foot and ankle problems often find that their symptoms worsen with age.

These challenges, and the pain that accompanies them, frequently limit mobility. Foot and ankle problems also increase your chances of falling, which can lead to broken bones, dislocated joints and similar orthopedic injuries.


Fortunately, foot problems don’t have to degrade your quality of life. Working with a foot and ankle specialist can help you regain your pain-free, active lifestyle.

How Advancing Age Exacerbates Foot Problems

As we get older, our bodies tend to shrink while our feet seem to grow larger. They don’t actually grow, however. Rather, due to years of standing, walking and exercising, the arches fall, the joints stiffen and the padding on the bottom of the foot deteriorates. These events cause the feet to spread, giving the illusion that they have grown.

As wear and tear take their toll, you may develop pain and corresponding challenges with walking and standing.

Bony growths (bunions, heel spurs), circulatory inhibition, dry or thinning skin and osteoarthritis are all conditions associated with age. Tendinitis, muscle strains, hammer toes, gout and diabetes also exert profound effects on the ankles and feet.

Common Types of Age-Related Ankle and Foot Pain

Pain and stiffness in the ankles is a common complaint for seniors, and it often becomes worse when walking or standing. Toe pain can develop as a result of bunions, gout, hammer or claw toe, sprains, fractures and toenail problems.

The balls, heels and sides of the feet are common sources of discomfort for older patients. These conditions can develop from plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendinitis, Morton’s neuroma or similar conditions. Arthritis and bursitis are also common for older patients.

Aging Patients Can Minimize Foot & Ankle Problems

Despite what you may believe, you don’t have to tolerate foot and ankle problems just because you’re getting older.

An orthopedic specialist can help you address minor problems before they become a source of chronic pain or limit your mobility. And with preventive strategies, you can ensure that you keep moving no matter what your age.

The key to maintaining mobility is to stay active. Keeping your muscles, ligaments and tendons flexible will help ward off a myriad of problems. The doctor can evaluate your biomechanics and gait to identify potential risk factors, and then develop a customized regimen for strengthening your feet and ankles, increasing flexibility and expanding range of motion.

The right footwear is also critical for keeping foot and ankle problems at bay. Don’t assume that your shoe size remains static. Purchase footwear from a good orthopedic shoe store, and have your feet measured every time. Shoe inserts can also help align your gait, reducing stress on your muscles and joints.

Finally, never ignore pain in the ankles or feet. Schedule an appointment with Dr. Hunter if your discomfort persists for more than a week, if the pain is severe or comes on suddenly, or if it doesn’t respond to rest, elevation, ice and compression.

If you are experiencing lower limb pain, an orthopedic surgeon who specializes in treating the feet and ankles can have you back on your feet in no time, enjoying the activities you love. Contact us today to schedule your appointment with Dr. Hunter for an evaluation of foot and ankle problems.