Most women gain weight as they age and the hormonal changes of menopause only increase the likelihood of gaining weight. Women who have a higher body mass index (BMI) are at a greater risk of foot pain. Women who are carrying extra weight have a higher risk of many painful podiatric problems like osteoarthritis, plantar fasciitis, and tendon inflammation.
Thinning Fat Pads
Another problem that leads to foot pain among older women is thinning fat pads on the soles of the feet. Women lose fat stores in their face and feet as they age. While fat loss in the face can make a woman appear gaunt, it's the fat loss on the soles of the feet that really hurt. These fat pads protect nerves, ligaments, bones, and tendons by absorbing impact. By age 50, the average woman will have lost about 50% of this protection on her feet.
Women are much more likely to develop calluses on their feet than men, most likely because women spend their life wearing high-heeled shoes. A callus is an accumulation of dead skin cells that hardens over an area of the foot. Calluses form due to pressure and friction and they're most often found on the heel, inside the big toe, and on the ball of the foot.
Most people assume athletes are at the greatest risk of developing plantar fasciitis, the most common cause of heel pain, but the risk for this condition actually increases with age. While the exact cause isn't known, post-menopausal women are believed to be at a higher risk of heel pain and inflammation because the feet widen and flatten with age, which increases stress on the fascia. Thinning of the fat pads on the soles of the feet likely plays a role as well.
Getting TreatmentWhile getting older isn't always a picnic, there are plenty of steps you can take to maintain your health and quality of life. Taking care of your feet is one of the best things you can do to maintain your mobility and well-being through the journey of menopause. If you're experiencing foot pain, it's important to schedule an appointment with a podiatrist as soon as possible to treat the cause of the pain before it worsens, potentially leading to disabling pain or numbness of the feet.