This past Friday, the Columbus Dispatch published a story in support of “Falls Prevention Awareness Day” in Ohio. The article discussed ways for the senior citizen population of Columbus to prevent falls and the serious injuries and hospitalizations that can accompany them. One crucial aspect of fall prevention not directly stated in the article is the importance of foot health in the elderly in maintaining good balance and stability.
Feet provide the base of support for the body and in an older individual changes have often occurred that weaken that base. Arthritis of the foot joints, foot deformities, muscle weakness and improper footwear can all play a role in changing the way that the foot keeps the body balanced. Bunions, calluses, hammertoes, and ingrown toenails can all cause pain in the foot. The body’s natural response is to avoid causing pain by changing the weight distribution on the foot so less pressure is placed on the deformity. This change can alter the gait to be more unsteady and increase the chance that a fall may occur. With a visit to your podiatrist there are many options to relieve these types of pain, and thus increase stability. Calluses and ingrown toenails can often be removed at an office visit, while hammertoes and bunions can be treated with surgery or their pain can be lessened using nonsurgical methods. Arthritis or other problems that may not allow the normal range of joint motion also can be treated with surgical methods, or with nonsurgical methods such as custom orthotics that can allow for better functioning of the entire foot while decreasing the pain of the afflicted joint. Simple foot exercises can be used to maintain muscle strength against the loss of muscle mass that accompanies normal aging. In the article in the Columbus Dispatch, this concept was being put to practice by the woman “tracing alphabet letters” with her toes. One last tip is to ensure that shoes fit properly and that the shoe bottom is not slippery. Shoes that do not fit properly can cause pain if they are too small or can cause tripping from the abnormally increased foot motion in the shoe if they are too large.
By taking small measures to “fall-proof” your feet with the help of your podiatrist you can avoid the big health problems and expenses that come with a serious fall!
Please visit www.ColumbusFoot.com for more information or call 614-885 FEET (3338) to schedule an appointment with a podiatrist in Columbus, Ohio. Columbus Podiatry & Surgery is located on the North side of Columbus, Ohio near Worthington.