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(CHICAGO – February 6, 2007) Senior citizens can reduce their risk for dangerous and deadly falls by having painful foot and ankle problems treated. That’s the message from experts with the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons (ACFAS).
Falls have become the leading cause of injury deaths among Americans age 65 and older, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. According to the ACFAS Web site, FootHealthFacts.org, painful foot conditions such as arthritis, corns, bunions, hammertoes, and complications of diabetes can cause problems with walking and balance.
Lower body weakness and gait and balance problems are frequently-cited risk factors for falls among seniors. Exercises to enhance lower body strength can reduce this risk. But for seniors with painful foot and ankle conditions, exercise can be difficult.
“Reducing or eliminating foot pain in seniors improves their balance, coordination and stability when walking or standing,” says Molly S. Judge, DPM, FACFAS, a foot and ankle surgeon in northwest Ohio. “Just one fall can permanently rob a senior of their independence and dramatically reduce their quality of life.”
Judge says foot and ankle surgeons can recommend simple, effective pain-relief measures such as stretching exercises or padding for painful corns and hammertoes. But when surgery is the most appropriate treatment for a senior’s painful feet, simple surgical techniques often allow treatment to be performed on an outpatient basis.
“It’s just not true that foot pain is a normal consequence of growing older,” she says. “No one should let pain hold them back from leading a full and active lifestyle.”
For more information on foot and ankle conditions, or to find a foot and ankle surgeon, visit the ACFAS patient information Web site, FootHealthFacts.org.