Regardless of whether or not you have gout, foot care is important—especially as you get older.1,2 Taking small steps to care for your feet now can help you maintain (or even improve) your mobility later.3 Here’s what you need to know about foot care as you age.
Don’t take them for granted
It’s easy to neglect your feet until you are forced to notice them (say, when you are in the middle of a gout flare). However, your feet are subjected to a lot of stress every single day.2 If you’re like most people, you take about 10,000 steps daily.2 When you consider that the impact of each step is two to three times your body weight, it’s not hard to see why your feet sometimes feel tired at the end of a long day.2
Make foot care a priority
Giving your feet the attention they deserve is worth it in the long run.3 Here are some foot care recommendations from the experts at Harvard Medical School3:
- Maintain a healthy weight—The more you weigh, the more impact you put on your feet with each step. Maintaining a healthy weight may help minimize the strain.
- Wear proper shoes—Wearing comfortable, well fitting shoes is one of the best things you can do to protect your mobility. If you have gout in your feet, consider shoes with good support, motion control and cushioning.4
- Moisturize your feet—The skin on your feet tends to get thinner and drier as you age. Try rubbing a thick moisturizing lotion on your feet after you bathe. (But be sure to avoid the spaces between the toes—too much moisture can lead to infection.)
- Practice good hygiene—Wash and dry your feet thoroughly every day. Cut your toenails straight across to avoid ingrown nails. Gently remove calluses with a pumice stone or foot file.
Watch for changes
As you age, the fibers that make up the tendons and ligaments in your feet tend to stretch.2 Although the effects are not the same for everyone (body weight, activity level and genetics all play a role), this stretching and shifting can cause a number of changes over the years2:
- Shifting—For many people, the feet become wider and longer with age.
- Flattening—The feet may appear flatter because the arches may settle.
- Thinning—The fat pads on the bottom of the feet become thinner, which may result in increased heel pain and calluses.
- Stiffness—The feet and ankles tend to lose their range of motion and become stiffer.
- Unsteadiness—Some people tend to lose their balance more frequently.
Keep an eye out for problems
As part of your foot care regimen, it’s a good idea to regularly check your feet for changes in the way they look, as well as their flexibility and sensitivity. Here are some recommendations from the experts at the American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society4:
- Examine your feet—Examine your feet for swelling, discoloration (skin or nails), blisters, large calluses and/or changes in shape. Don’t forget to check the soles of your feet and the spaces between your toes.
- Test your flexibility—Try to pick up a marble or a tissue using just your toes to assess their flexibility.
- Check sensitivity—Run a pencil eraser along the top, bottom and both sides of your feet. The sensation should feel the same everywhere (it may tickle, which is normal). If you lack feeling in one area, try again the next day. If the lack of sensation persists, you may want to ask your doctor about it.
When to see your doctor
Although some changes in your feet are normal as you age, you may develop problems that require treatment.2 If you find it difficult to wear shoes or participate in activities you enjoy, make an appointment to see your doctor.2 He or she will most likely examine you and may refer you on to a specialist who focuses on foot and ankle problems.
NOTE: This article was not written by a medical professional and is not intended to substitute for the guidance of a physician. These are not Hikma’s recommendations for gout flare prevention, but rather facts and data collected from various reliable medical sources. For a full list of resources and their attributing links, see below.