Up to one-third of adults ages 65 and older regularly experience foot pain, according to a 2019 study in the journal Arthritis Care & Research.
One age-related factor may be osteoarthritis, a wearing away of cartilage, often between your foot joints, says Sean Peden, a foot and ankle orthopedic surgeon at Yale Medicine in Stamford, Conn. “Another big one is neuropathy, which is like arthritis for your nerves,” and can lead to feet that are sensitive, achy or numb, he says.
Many people also lose some of the cushioning on the bottom of their feet as they age. “This causes you to walk on the bones of your feet, rather than on fat padding, which causes pain,” Peden says.
Ease the pain: First, invest in the right footwear. “I recommend a shoe with a relatively hard sole that’s cushioned and soft in the middle, like Birkenstocks or sturdy sneakers,” Peden says.
Stretching is a good idea, too, he says, adding that muscles tighten with age, leading to sore foot muscles and tendons. He recommends calf and sitting hamstring stretches. “When these muscles are loose,” he says, “they put less stress on the foot.”
For foot osteoarthritis, try rubbing on an OTC anti-inflammatory cream like Voltaren. For tingling, numbness or weakness, physical therapy could help by stimulating nerves. And for pain caused by the loss of fat in the pads of your feet, consider using padded shoes or shoe inserts, or wearing cushioned socks.