Fat loss in the older foot.
Posted on 6th December 2017 at 12:04
We all love babies little plump feet and the fattiness that settles in the ball and heel of our feet protects and cushions our feet throughout our life. But as we age this fattiness reduces causing problems.
This is called Fat Pad Atrophy and can happen in younger people due to illness e.g. Rheumatoid Arthritis, foot structure e.g. high arched feet or mechanical forces e.g. prolonged wearing of high heels. In older people Fat Pad Atrophy occurs due to wear and tear and natural progression and this is increased in people with Diabetes.
Unsurprisingly losing one’s fatty pad causes sensitivity in the feet as pressure increases around the areas of loss. In the older person walking can be slower resulting to longer spells of the feet on the ground.
The bones in the heel and ball of the feet (the metatarsal heads) protrude and the skin stretches over creating tension (see blog on older people’s skin). This is often described as ‘walking on marbles’ and can cause breakdown of the skin over these bony prominences.
The simplest way to compensate for fat pad loss is to wear cushioned footwear. This may sound obvious but pop socks and court shoes or thin cotton socks and brogues do not provide this outdoors and flimsy slippers, or bare feet indoors are not much use either. Brands such as Cosy Feet sell slippers that are not only cushioned but stay on your feet due to the full upper, heel cup and Velcro fastenings. Padders and Hotter do outdoor shoes that are cushioned and roomy for feet that are difficult to fit.
Your podiatrist has access to a wide range of pressure redistributing insoles that are designed to cushion and protect thin feet.
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