Foot Pain Causes & Relief

Foot Pain Causes & Relief

Foot pain at any age can be frustrating. You don’t realize just how much walking you do on any given day until your feet start hurting. We all experience it from time to time. A long day at work, twelve hours at an amusement park with your kids or grandkids, or even a long afternoon of cooking a holiday meal can have you aching to put your feet up and relax, but longer periods of chronic foot pain can have more serious causes and consequences.

Seniors suffering from foot disorders, discomfort, or chronic pain often find themselves dealing with more serious, long-term health issues, such as:

  • Limited mobility
  • Weight gain
  • Balance issues
  • Injuries due to falls
  • Muscle weakness  
  • Decreased heart function

What causes prolonged foot pain?

You might be surprised to learn what factors contribute to chronic foot pain. While the cause of foot pain might be as simple as ill-fitting shoes, sometimes foot pain is just a symptom or side effect of a more serious illness. Certain medical conditions, including cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, or diabetes, can cause severe foot pain. For instance, diabetes can reduce circulation, create foot ulcers, and cause nerve damage in your feet. If you experience chronic foot pain, please contact your physician and schedule an appointment to discuss your concerns and rule out - or diagnose and treat - any underlying health issues.

What are the common types of foot pain in older adults?

Many seniors experience foot pain due to arthritis, gout, bunions, calluses and corns, bone spurs, hammertoes (caused by a lack of joint flexibility), or plantar fasciitis (an inflamed ligament on the foot). People over the age of 65 are more likely to have fungus infections in toenails due to compromised immune systems, poor circulation, obesity, or psoriasis.  

Don’t wait any longer to get foot pain relief.  Try some of these foot care tips to start feeling better today.

How to Relieve Sore Feet and Treat Foot Pain

Increase circulation.

If your feet are feeling sore due to excessive walking or a minor injury, you may be able to treat the condition at home. Elevating your feet will help increase circulation. Move your toes and ankles frequently, and refrain from crossing your legs. Smoking is a common cause of vascular disease, so if you smoke, please talk to your doctor about smoking cessation counseling and treatment.

Practice good foot hygiene.

Wash your feet in warm water each day, and make sure to dry them well. Keep the skin soft with moisturizer, and keep toenails trimmed and clean. If you have calluses or corns, gently smooth them with a pumice stone. If you had a long day on your feet, consider treating yourself to a pedicure.

Wear appropriate shoes and socks.

Make sure your shoes fit properly, and support and protect your feet. Try not to walk barefoot very often, especially in extreme temperatures. Even if you do not feel too hot, your feet can be very sensitive. Be careful before walking on hot sand or cement. Wear socks at night to keep them warm, if necessary.

Try cold therapy.

Putting ice on your feet for approximately 15 to 20 minutes several times a day may help alleviate foot pain. Ice packs specifically designed for the feet and ankles can help relieve aches and soreness, but can also help provide relief from pain caused by plantar fasciitis, sprains, Achilles tendonitis, or carpal tunnel.

Use over-the-counter medication appropriately.

Over the counter anti-inflammatory medications may help reduce the inflammation and pain in your feet, and can help you heal from minor injuries. If you suffer from arthritic foot pain, your doctor may suggest painkillers, such as Tylenol (acetaminophen) or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin or ibuprofen.  Before taking any over-the-counter medications, discuss your pain with your physician and pharmacist to avoid adverse drug interactions.

Seek medical attention.

How do you know if you need to seek medical attention due to foot pain? If you’ve tried home remedies and do not feel any relief from foot pain or notice any of these accompanying symptoms, please contact your physician immediately:

  • Severe pain or swelling
  • An open wound, blister, or sore that does not start to heal after a day or two
  • Signs of infection, including a fever of over 100°
  • Experience redness or warmth in the area of the pain
  • Continued pain that keeps you from putting any weight on your foot
  • Persistent swelling
  • Burning pain or numbness
  • A previously-diagnosed underlying illness that may be causing the pain, such as diabetes

Depending on the cause of your foot pain, your physician may suggest a course of antibiotics (to treat fungal infections), outpatient surgery (for bunion removal), or may refer you to a podiatrist.  

Foot Care and Medicare

Many podiatrists, specialists in diagnosing and treating foot disorders, focus on geriatric foot care and can help you determine the best methods to treat your foot pain. If you have Medicare Part B (Medical Insurance), podiatrist services for medically necessary treatment of injuries or diseases (such as hammertoes, bunions, and heel spurs) will be covered. Medicare does not cover routine foot care, such as removal of corns, nail clipping, or preventive maintenance.

If you have diabetes, diabetic peripheral neuropathy, and loss of protective sensations,

Medicare Part B will cover a foot exam every six months as long as you haven’t seen a foot care specialist in between that time for another reason. If your doctor (a podiatrist, orthotist, prosthetist, pedorhist or other qualified medical provider) certifies that you need therapeutic shoes or inserts, Medicare will cover the furnishing and fitting of either one pair of custom-molded shoes and inserts or one pair of extra-depth shoes each calendar year. Medicare also covers 2 additional pairs of inserts each calendar year for custom-molded shoes and 3 pairs of inserts each calendar year for extra-depth shoes. Medicare will cover shoe modifications instead of inserts.

Suppliers must participate in Medicare and “accept assignment” if you have Original Medicare. If you are enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan, speak to your plan directly to confirm services and supplies related to your needs. Medicare Advantage plans must cover at least the same benefits as Original Medicare, but many offer additional benefits.

Don’t suffer with chronic foot pain. If you are experiencing chronic or severe foot pain, call your physician to schedule an appointment. With the right diagnosis and treatment, you’ll be walking around pain-free in no time.