What you need to know about physiotherapy and podiatry.
Your feet have taken you on many journeys over the years. Many changes happen to your body as you get older: poorer eyesight, difficulty bending to look at and reach for your feet and toes. These result in less attention being spent on your poor feet and toes, which may lead to problems in the future.
We do not usually think about our feet until we experience pain or discover any problems. It is therefore important to have your feet checked regularly so that any issues can be discovered and treated early, to prevent complications. Neglecting foot problems can affect mobility and your quality of life. So put your best foot forward, and let your feet age gracefully.
What are some of the common foot disorders amongst the elderly?
Corns and calluses are caused by pressure when bony parts of your feet are rubbed repeatedly against your shoes. Abnormal walking and standing posture and positions can also contribute to corns and calluses. As the corn and callus thicken over time, they may cause pain when walking and standing. Treatment by a podiatrist would help to alleviate the discomfort for the long term. Corns and calluses can be quickly and effectively reduced with a scalpel. It is a painless procedure and you will be able to walk pain-free immediately after treatment. Podiatrists are also able to modify footwear and prescribe foot insoles to help prevent the recurrence of corns and calluses.
Fungi flourish in warm and moist environments such as shoes and socks. It is especially prevalent in tropical climates like Singapore’s. Also known as athlete’s foot, this condition is prevalent amongst the elderly due to their poorer immunity. Signs and symptoms include redness, itching, dry peeling skin and red vesicles (blister-like structures) that appear on your skin. When your nails are affected, they will appear to be thick, discoloured, or flaky, depending on the extent of the infection.
Treatment for fungal skin infection includes the application of anti-fungal creams and powder depending on the area of infection. Occasionally, your podiatrist may also advise you to soak your feet in treatment solutions, when necessary.
When there is fungal infection of the toenails, the nails may need to be thinned down by the podiatrist to allow better absorption of the antifungal nail lacquer into the nail bed. Physio & Sole Clinic also provides Photodynamic therapy for nail fungus, a method that eradicates bacteria, viruses and fungi effectively from the skin surface or nails, using exposure of certain light spectrum.
Nail deformities are characterised by changes in thickness, contour, surface and colour of one’s toenails. These changes can occur when your nails have been through trauma. With age, ill fitting footwear and prior injuries, nails will usually grow at a slower rate, and it is not uncommon for the elderly to experience nail changes.
Some of the common conditions that the elderly will observe include fungal nail infections; pincer shaped (increased curvature of the nails, sometimes easily causing an ingrown toenail) nails, and thickened toenails (onychogryphosis, also known as rams’ horn nails) that are difficult to trim with our normal home clippers. Podiatrists are trained and well equipped to treat nails with deformities, and may apply the appropriate nail trimming techniques as well as resolve any ingrown toenails as part of their treatment methods. Your podiatrist would also be able to impart any self-care techniques and advise on footwear features to allow you to manage any toenail deformities.
Painful arches/heels or flat feet
Pain can arise due to structural changes in our feet. Weakening or tightening tendons and muscles, and lowering arch profiles are some of the effects that occur with ageing. These may cause adult acquired flat feet and/or painful arches or heels.
Podiatrists are qualified to conduct various tests and assessments to find out the primary cause of the problem. They will conduct a biomechanical evaluation, which includes tests for joint range of motion, muscle strength and tightness as well as a series of non weight-bearing and weight-bearing assessments, visual and video gait analyses.
With the information gathered, they will be able to explain the root of the problem. Where appropriate, they will provide you with footwear advice, educate you on stretching/strengthening exercises, and insole options. They may also recommend taping, wedging or padding measures to help alleviate the symptoms.
Diabetes can cause changes in the feet and lower limbs which include nerve damage, poor blood supply, lack of inflammatory response, and changes to the foot’s skin and structure. With these changes and poor foot care management, one would be prone to wound formation, which may result in lower limb amputations.
Therefore, preventative foot care is very important in managing the diabetic foot risks. A podiatrist can help you understand your feet better, as well as equip you with requisite knowledge to practise self-care and monitoring. Podiatrists are trained to conduct diabetic foot screenings and will advice you on the necessary steps in achieving good foot health.
When should you consult a podiatrist?
Being mobile is exceptionally important to the elderly if they want to keep up with an active lifestyle and remain independent. Without prevention or proper care, certain conditions can result in disability. Your feet have dutifully supported you thus far in life, it is time to give them the care they deserve.
Contact our clinic now to have your feet checked! Our professional and friendly podiatrists will gladly assist you.
Just show us your Pioneer Generation card to enjoy 20% off our podiatry services!