Tired Legs and Sore Feet Symptoms in Older Adults

SYMPTOMS       |       CAUSES      |       RELIEF       |       FINAL THOUGHTS

Many older adults dismiss their tired legs and sore feet as part of getting older. But why should you suffer if there’s a way to help relieve your symptoms? You’ve been accustomed to a certain quality of life, and there’s no need for that to change. While the aging process tends to bring some expected but unwanted symptoms, there’s a good chance that your tired legs and sore feet symptoms can find some relief. We’ll explore ways to help soothe the exhaustion and aches you’re feeling in your legs in feet.

Symptoms to watch out for

Some degenerative pain and worn-out feeling in your legs and feet are normal as you near retirement age. They’ve carried you all through the years and been there for you every step of the way.

At some point, though, many older adults experience tiredness in their legs that weigh them down. Your legs might also feel stiff and exhausted, even if you’ve done very little to account for your symptoms. Your feet might also ache and feel sore.

Depending on whether your discomfort is just from aging, or whether a medical condition is contributing to your symptoms, you may notice other symptoms as well:

  • Throbbing pain in your legs. The pain may be felt in just one leg.

  • A numb or dull feeling in your legs. The numbness can make your legs feel weaker than you’d like.

  • Cold feeling in your legs. Your legs might also tingle.

  • Swelling in one or both legs. If the blood in your legs isn’t circulating as it should, you’re more likely to have some swelling.

  • Difficulty standing or walking. You might find this particularly troublesome later in the day.

  • Visible veins at the surface of your skin. There could be some discoloration, and the area near the veins could turn pale, red, or blue.

You may notice that you only have tiredness in your legs on occasion. Or, your feet might only ache or feel sore when you’ve stood up most of the day. Those things are nothing unusual and probably nothing to worry about.

But, if your legs start to feel tired or heavy, or your feet begin to experience soreness or aching much of the time, it’s time to evaluate the problem. Chronic symptoms are likely to disrupt your life and cause you unnecessary suffering.

If your symptoms occur frequently, see your doctor so they can determine a cause and find a course of treatment.

What can cause tired legs and sore feet symptoms in older adults?

Older adults experiencing fatigue in legs or aching in the feet may find it frustrating. The causes can be any number of things.

If it comes and goes, it’s probably just part of the process of getting older. But, if it happens more than you’d like, there’s probably a medical reason for it.

Here are some of the more common reasons for fatigue and soreness in the legs and feet:

Varicose Veins

It’s not uncommon for the circulation in your legs to be inefficient as you get older. Unfortunately, one of the more common results of this slowed circulation is varicose veins. And, slower circulation will cause your legs to feel more tired than they should.

With varicose veins, blood tends to pool and stay stagnant in parts of your legs. Your veins lose their elasticity and tend to get knotty in places. The result is varicose veins, which are visible close to the skin.

While varicose veins aren’t generally serious, they can lead to something more serious. They’re a sign that your blood circulation can use some improvement. If you have varicose veins, you’re at an increased risk for blood clots in your legs.

If you develop a blood clot in your leg, it’ll swell near the area of the clot. You’d also likely experience a bit of pain. But, the risk is that the blood clot can break off and travel to your heart.

If you’re overweight, sit or stand too much, or don’t get enough exercise, you’re more likely to have varicose veins in your legs.

 

Chronic Venous Insufficiency

One of the more common causes of heavy, tired legs is chronic venous insufficiency. The blood in your veins is affected by gravity, just like anything else. It’s easier for blood to flow downward than it is to go back up. When you’re younger, it can accomplish both better.

The normal process of blood flow in the legs is that the heart pumps blood to your legs to help them function. Then the blood flow returns to the heart, and the process repeats itself.

In your 20s, 30s, and 40s, your heart and circulatory systems tend to work at their optimum. As you get older, your heart isn’t as efficient as it used to be. Your veins and arteries aren’t as resilient either and become weaker.

It’s more work for the blood in your veins to flow upward as you age. So, in essence, fighting gravity becomes more strenuous for your body, and it’s harder for veins to push blood back up to the heart.

Your legs also have valves in them that are designed to keep blood from returning down into your legs. With chronic venous insufficiency, not only do your veins become weaker, but so do these valves.

The result is that blood doesn’t return to the heart like it’s supposed to. If this happens, you’re likely to have tired legs, sore feet, swelling, and a feeling of heaviness. You’ll also notice spider veins in your legs.

 

Risk Factors for Chronic Venous Insufficiency

  • Standing for long periods of time
  • Carrying around extra weight
  • A sedentary lifestyle or lack of exercise
  • Getting older
  • A poor diet

 

Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD)

Peripheral artery disease (PAD), also known as Peripheral Vascular Disease (PVD), is another common condition experienced by older adults, smokers, and people with certain medical conditions. PAD impacts millions of Americans and affects the arteries when fat deposits build up on the artery’s walls, narrowing and hardening the blood vessels. This can stop the blood flow altogether or makes it hard for blood to pass, resulting in a lack of oxygen to the feet and legs.

PAD commonly affects the legs and can cut off circulation to both the feet and legs. This can result in a heavy, tired, and aching feeling in your legs. You can also experience cramps, especially when you walk or when you sleep at night (night cramp).

If you have PAD, your feet and legs may also feel colder. You may also notice that your legs feel weaker and might even feel numb or tingly. If you get a sore on your leg or foot, you may notice that it heals slower than normal. You might also see that your legs or feet have an unusual color to them.

 

Risk Factors for PAD:

  • High cholesterol
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Over 50
  • Obesity
  • Smoking
  • Sedentary (inactive) lifestyle

The larger risk if you have PAD is that it could be a sign that the arteries leading to your heart and brain are also narrowed. This can lead to a heart attack or a stroke.

 

Diabetes

If you have diabetes, you’re naturally more disposed to experiencing sore feet or tired leg symptoms because you’re more at risk for developing the previous conditions.

Diabetes affects how your entire body works together. High blood glucose levels damage blood vessels. Plague builds up and narrows the arteries, slowing circulation.

This can lead to PAD and venous insufficiency, and you’re more likely to have aching in your feet. Your legs may swell more and feel tired.

 

Risk Factors for Diabetes

  • Being overweight
  • Family history of diabetes
  • Being 45 years or older
  • Have high blood pressure or low levels of good cholesterol and high levels of triglycerides
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Previous history of a stroke or heart attack

 

Additional Considerations

If you’re experiencing tired legs or sore feet, see your doctor. There are many things that can cause your symptoms. The list provided is not a comprehensive list.

If you have any of the conditions that commonly lead to your legs feeling more tired than they should, carefully follow your doctor’s advice in treating your condition. This is the best thing you can do to control your condition and treat any symptoms associated with it.

If you have new, onset soreness in your feet or tired legs, contact your doctor. He or she can evaluate your overall health and discover if there’s a medical cause for your discomfort.

Finding relief for your tired legs and sore feet

It’s vital to heed your doctor’s advice in treating any medical condition that causes your symptoms.

Aside from that, ask him or her about these actions that could help you experience better relief from fatigue and soreness in your legs and feet.

Elevate your legs

Sitting or lying down for too long can make your blood circulation and lymphatic system sluggish. If you elevate your legs, the heart doesn’t have to work as hard to pump blood to and from your legs. When you sit in your recliner while watching television or lay down to sleep at night, elevate your legs and feet just above your heart. This could help relieve the heavy pressure you feel in your legs that can result in your legs feeling tired. It also helps replenish your legs with fresh blood. While you’re at it, wriggle your toes so they can feel more refreshed too.

 

Reduce your sodium intake.

If your doctor thinks it’s a good idea, eat foods with less salt or shake a little less salt on your food. This might reduce the symptoms that accompany swelling in your legs. Your legs might feel less fatigued and lighter. Depending on which medication you’re taking, your doctor might offer different advice concerning your salt intake.

 

Alter your body position frequently.

This means you’ll want to avoid too much standing or sitting for an extended time. This could make your legs and feet feel more tired and heavy because it’ll reduce the amount of circulation in your legs. Changing positions, on the other hand, will help improve circulation and could offer a little relief for your symptoms.

 

If you smoke, try to break the habit.

Smoking increases your risk of PAD, chronic venous insufficiency, and cardiovascular disease. All of these negatively affect circulation in your body. Poor circulation brings on symptoms of tired legs, sore and aching feet, and swelling to your lower extremities. If you stop smoking or even greatly reduce your habit, you may help relieve some of your symptoms.

 

If you’re overweight, lose a few pounds.

Unfortunately, carrying a few extra pounds is a contributing factor in developing the conditions that can cause heavy, tired legs and soreness in your feet. If you lose weight, it’s possible to dramatically reduce your symptoms because your body will contend with less pressure.

 

Give your feet a soak.

You can revive your sore, achy feet with a good soak in Epsom salt and warm water. Epsom salt can help reduce inflammation and flush out toxins from your body. It can also help improve circulation in your feet. Since Epsom salt does have magnesium in it, you may want to check with your physician to be sure you’re not on any medications or have any medical conditions that contraindicate whether or not you can use magnesium as a natural therapy. This is especially important if you have diabetes or you’re on a diuretic. Either way, warm water itself does wonders all on its own.

 

Boost circulation in your body.

There are a few ways to do this. Ask your doctor if it’s okay for you to exercise. A mild walking program or even swimming therapy can help your body pump blood better. This can even have good side effects like, losing weight and lowering your blood pressure. Some products can help boost circulation in your legs while you relax at home. While a mild exercise program is always a good idea for, sometimes your activities are more restricted than you’d like them to be. A circulation-boosting product can fill in the gap during those times.

Final thoughts

No doubt, you want the most you can get out of life. No one wants tired legs or sore feet to slow them down. An active life is a fulfilling life.

While it’s important to respect any limitations you might have, there are likely a few things you can do to help improve your discomfort.

Your physician knows best how to treat any medical conditions you have. Follow their advice. In the meantime, ask them if there are things you can do at home to improve your health, relieve your tired legs, and reduce the soreness in your feet.

Disclaimer: This content is not intended as medical advice. We believe in helping people to make informed decisions about their health. We hope to empower you to ask your physician the right questions so you can both agree on a treatment plan that’s right for you.

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