Menopause and its Impact on Foot Health
Menopause marks a significant transition in a woman’s life, with hormonal changes influencing not only her reproductive system, but also various aspects of overall well-being.While it is commonly associated with hormonal changes and various symptoms like hot flashes and mood swings, its effects on the feet and ankles are often overlooked. As a podiatrist, I frequently encounter patients whose foot health has been impacted by the hormonal shifts associated with menopause. In this blog we delve into the multifaceted effects of menopause on the feet and offer insights into maintaining optimal foot and ankle health during this transformative stage of life.
Bone Health and Osteoporosis
One of the primary concerns during menopause is the decline in oestrogen levels, which plays a crucial role in maintaining bone mass. The impact on bone density can lead to conditions such as osteopenia and osteoporosis. These weakened bones are at risk of fractures and stress injuries, especially in weightbearing areas in the feet.
My top tip: Regular weight-bearing exercise and an adequate intake of calcium and vitamin D can help your bone health. Seek advice if you experience sudden pain or swelling in your foot.
Ligament and Tendon Changes
Oestrogen also influences the elasticity of connective tissues such as ligaments and tendons, which become less flexible as oestrogen levels decrease. The stiffness in these tissues makes them more susceptible to injury.
My top tip: Stretching exercises and maintaining a healthy weight can help keep connective tissues flexible, reducing the risk of strains and injuries.
Joint Pain and Arthritis
The hormonal changes in menopause may contribute to inflammation and degeneration of joints, leading to osteoarthritis. The weight-bearing joints in the feet may be particularly affected.
My top tip: Low impact exercises, appropriate footwear and orthotic devices can help alleviate joint pain and provide support to feet that are affected by arthritis.
Changes in Foot Structure
Alterations in hormone levels can also affect the structure of the foot. Collapsed arches and changes in foot shape may occur, leading to biomechanical imbalances and an increased risk of conditions such as plantar fasciitis.
My top tip: If you are worried about changes in your foot structure or experience foot pain, seek advice from a podiatrist. Supportive footwear, custom orthoses and regular foot assessments can help address changes in foot structure and prevent the development of painful conditions.
The decline in oestrogen levels during menopause can contribute to changes in skin elasticity, moisture levels and collagen production. Reduced elasticity can lead to dryness and thinning of the skin, making it more susceptible to cracking and calluses. At the same time, hormonal fluctuations can affect the immune system, making the skin more vulnerable to infection, particularly fungal infections such as athlete’s foot.
My top tip: Maintain good foot hygiene, moisturise your feet regularly and choose breathable footwear to keep your skin healthy and fungal infections at bay.
As women navigate the transformative stage of menopause, it’s essential to recognize the comprehensive impact on the body, encompassing the musculoskeletal system and skin health. Proactive measures, including attentive foot care, maintaining bone health and flexibility and addressing changes in foot structure, can contribute to optimising your foot health during and after menopause. Consulting with a podiatrist for personalised advice and care ensures a holistic approach to foot health, promoting comfort and mobility throughout this next phase of life.