How to Assess Changes in Feet: Normal or Abnormal

The average person takes approximately 10,000 steps per day, which can add up more than 3 million steps per year. Each step can place two to three times the force of your body weight on your feet. With time, this extensive repetitive use leads to several normal changes associated with aging:
  • The foot becomes wider and longer.
  • There is mild settling of the arch which is seen as flattening of the foot.
  • The fat pad on the bottom of the heel thins out, causing loss of natural padding and spring in the step.
  • The foot and ankle lose some of their normal range of motion and become stiffer.
  • There can be some loss of balance while walking. 
Some foot changes can occur that are abnormal or pathological. These tend to occur in association with prolonged use of ill-fitting shoes and their incidences peak in the fourth, fifth and sixth decades. These problems do not occur naturally and many can be prevented or their progress halted by modifying the shoes that are worn. These problems include:
  • Bunions (the formation of a large bump on the big toe, which starts to point toward the little toes).
  • Hammering of the toes (curling of the toes).
  • Clawing of the toes (more severe curling of the toes).
  • Bunionettes (the formation of a large bump on the smallest toe, which starts to point toward the large toe).
  • Calluses or corns, which occur on the toes or foot due to high pressure over bony areas.
  • Morton's neuromas ("pinched nerve" between the toes).
  • Arthritis of the joints.

Resources

Adult Foot Health

 

The American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society (AOFAS) offers information on this site as an educational service. The content of FootCareMD, including text, images and graphics, is for informational purposes only. The content is not intended to substitute for professional medical advice, diagnoses or treatments. If you need medical advice, use the "Find an Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Surgeon" tool at the top of this page or contact your primary doctor.