Other Free Encyclopedias » Medicine Encyclopedia » Aging Healthy - Part 2 » Foot - Nail Conditions, Skin Conditions, Joint And Bone Conditions, Circulatory Conditions, Proper Shoe Gear And Selection

Foot - Joint And Bone Conditions

age toes toe pain arthritis

In older adults, joint pain, weakness, stiffness, and swelling is often attributed to arthritis. A multitude of factors can contribute to this condition. Cellular metabolism and repair decrease with age contributing to unrepaired lower extremity microtrauma in everyday activities. Progressive weakness and instability and longstanding medical conditions can contribute to further joint destruction. Longstanding arthritis can lead to a breakdown in joint surfaces or cartilage causing painful ambulation. Bone deformity becomes rigid with age, affecting mobility as well as increased areas of skin pressure and contributing to painful hyperkeratotic lesions. In diabetics or individuals with circulatory and neurological problems, skin breakdown or ulcerations can occur.

Treatment for arthritis is dependent on the primary cause. Pain and swelling is often managed with prescription medications. In older persons the dose and amount of medication must be adjusted to accommodate normal decrease in drug metabolism and interactions with current medications. Use of steroid injections can help to alleviate acute pain and swelling but should be limited to avoid destruction of surrounding areas. Elderly persons are often good candidates for more conservative treatment consisting of special molded shoes to decrease skin pressure areas or special padding and/or inserts for existing shoes. Early physical therapy intervention can be helpful in increasing mobility, decreasing long-term rigidity, and helping with stability in the older person.

In addition to arthritis, older persons have a high rate of foot abnormalities such as bunions and hammer toes. A bunion is a deformity or misalignment of the first toe joint or first metatarsal phalangeal joint. This condition causes the toe to deviate toward the second toe and the head of the first bone or metatarsal can be seen as a "bump". With time the joint can become misaligned and stiff. Hammer toes, mallet toes, and claw toes are caused by contractions at joints in the lesser four toes. Pain is often due to the decreased motion in the joint, arthritic changes, and pressure in footwear. Special shoe inserts such as orthotics or shoe modifications may be helpful. If the condition is still painful and debilitating surgical management may be recommended. This could include removing or repositioning bone to decrease the length of the toe and reduce the deformity.

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