What medical conditions could cause pain in the feet and lower legs?

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First of all, I am sorry if this is a silly question. I just found this site, and since there's no equivalent in my country I have found it very useful. This is my first time as a care giver, and it is only temporary for the summer, it is a huge responsibility, and I just want to be on the safe side. I offered to care for the mother of some very dear friends of mine, since they all work many hours, and it's terribly hot in the city. I have a house by a beach, and I thought it would be a nice vacation for their very sweet mum, and a nice rest for them. She is 83 and in pretty good health. Just slightly overweight, with circulatory issues and some arthritis. She is pretty independent, and I just supervise her a little bit. I always take her for a walk in the evenings, and lately she's been complaining of her feet, and lower legs hurting. A while ago I put her to soak her feet in water with some Epson salts, and then massaged her gently with hydrating cream. She said it felt so much better. Later on, I started to freak out about whether I should just leave her alone. I mean... what I did sounds totally harmless, but again I don't have any medical knowledge and I have never dealt with a senior person, could I worsen any of her medical conditions by massaging her legs or using Epson salts on her feet? I would really hate something happening to her while she is with me.

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Believe it or not, I managed to take her to the doctor! It was easier than I thought, I just had to get creative. This is my first real vacation in years, I just got divorced after 5 years of an awful marriage, and got to come back here. I feel great, and I was thinking of extending my vacation for one or two more months when some important work projects will begin. I had talked about it with my friends, and told them I saw no reason why she could not stay with me if she wanted to. She has been really depressed since her husband died, and does not like to live in her apartment in the city. Here, she seems happy. However, we did not tell mom of this arrangements. So, last evening while we were walking I told her how happy I was that I got to spend this time with her, and how much I was going to miss her at the end of the month when she would go back home. I said I totally understand that she did not want to go to the clinic here, and would rather see her family doctor in Athens, it was unfortunate though because I really wanted her to stay with me longer but did not feel comfortable since she will not let me get help when she does not feel good. Oh boy, did it work!
We spent the morning there. They did some testing, but the doctor did not want to make changes in her medication, and did not seem too concerned about her legs and feet being sore. He told her to continue with her pain medication for arthritis. Also said that she needed to lose weight, which is worsening her circulatory issues in the legs. Told me to keep doing what I was doing whenever she complained of pain, but instead of massaging her with cream to use coconut or almond oil with rosemary or eucalyptus essential oils. And of course, keep her walking.
I feel better because she really liked the doctor, and the fact that he advised home remedies (which she loves) rather than more medicine, so if God forbids something happened while she is here she won't refuse to go back.
Careisgiving, thank you for your suggestion about the CNA online class, it might be worth a shot since it seems she will be with me longer than expected.
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I understand many elders refuse to see the doctor but I guarantee you if there is a medical emergency either related directly or indirectly to this woman's complaint of pain, then her family doctor and the emergency response team will want to know why this pain issue wasn't addressed earlier and it can be viewed as elder neglect - unless her doctor is already are of the elder's ongoing refusal to see the doctor for any issue. There is no reason why this woman's family simply can't contact the family doctor regarding the elder's complaint of pain. They don't need this elder's permission to call the doctor. The doctor must be kept in the loop as to what is going on even if the doctor is already aware of this elder's history of non-compliance.

The fact you posted what medical conditions can cause pain in the leg and feet is your gut reaction that something isn't right with this woman's ongoing complaint of pain.

Regarding your statement: "but again I don't have any medical knowledge and I have never dealt with a senior person, could I worsen any of her medical conditions by massaging her legs or using Epson salts on her feet? I would really hate something happening to her while she is with me."

Regarding your statement: I've asked her oldest daughter if she had ever complained on her feet hurting before, and she laughed and said that is one of mom's favorite topics so I feel relieved I did not cause it. As long as Epson salts cannot possibly hurt her, and it is OK to just rub her legs or feet if she needs me too, I will just stick to that. I am probably just making a big deal, because I have never ever taken care of anyone in my entire life, and I don't want to call my friends too often with questions, I don't want them to feel they've put a burden on me if you know what i mean.

Suggestion: You should strongly consider taking a CNA type of class online to better educate yourself on what can happen in the elderly.

I never said you are a bad caregiver.
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Careisgiving I think you are right, and that was my first suggestion when she first mentioned hurting. Unfortunately, all I can do is suggest, and offer to take her. She is not my relative, and although she's the sweetest person on earth, and very easy to handle, she will not even hear about it. Of course, she has her regular doctor back in Athens and follows regular check ups, and sees specialists but I will just have to leave it up to her family. Her daughters are coming next weekend to visit her, so I will let them know my concerns and they can argue with mom. Don't get me wrong, it is not negligence on my behalf, I love this lady more than my own mum (with whom I don't have such a great relationship anyway). I just feel super awkward trying to impose a decision on someone in her age, and whom I have great respect for. Like, I am more than happy to take care of her but I think the argument part should not be mine to handle.
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I suffer with painful legs and feet cramping. My legs are also discolored because the blood was not flowing thru but seeping out. I am a 79 yr old female. As I read a comment in the list naming peripheral artery disease as a possible cause; I wanted to send my experience. Finally after much pain (mainly at night) I made an appointment with a vascular surgeon. The testing is done in the office and is not painful. The solution was an operation called "a Fem Pop". They replaced the vein from the inside of both of my legs - from crotch to the knees. The recovery time was a few weeks and THANK GOD I HAVE NO MORE PAIN!! That was 4 years ago - the discoloration of the ankle part of my leg has permanently stained my skin. People think I have a sunburn! I don't care about the permanently red ankles I have and I sure am happy the nightly pain is gone!!
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Take her to doctor for an evaluation for chronic venous insufficiency, peripheral artery disease, deep varicose veins, kidney disease, heart failure. She may also be suffering from a very bad case of plantar fasciitis along with the previously issues. It's not normal - for anyone - of any age - to feel any type of pain. If she suffers a medical emergency due to whatever is going on in her legs or elsewhere in her body, then medical professionals will be asking why you and her family didn't take her to the doctor or even to the ER for a simple evaluation - and the medical staff can easily report this to Adult Protection Services as elder neglect. She needs to be medically evaluated now.
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Thank you guys so much! That has really helped me. I have been checking her feet VERY often, and I don't see anything like what sendhelp describes, just feels like normal swelling due to heat and the fact that she is a bit overweight (I don't mean that any swelling should be normal, but I mean... it happens to me as well and I am in my thirties). Luckily, she's not diabetic either. She usually takes a small walk everyday with her children in the city, of course walking on the beach is different, but she loves it, and I let her decide the length of the walk. I've asked her oldest daughter if she had ever complained on her feet hurting before, and she laughed and said that is one of mom's favorite topics so I feel relieved I did not cause it. As long as Epson salts cannot possibly hurt her, and it is OK to just rub her legs or feet if she needs me too, I will just stick to that. I am probably just making a big deal, because I have never ever taken care of anyone in my entire life, and I don't want to call my friends too often with questions, I don't want them to feel they've put a burden on me if you know what i mean. Again, thank you all.
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Ella,
Walking on the beach after not exercising for a long time....
Can over exercise the calf muscles....
Cause a normal build up of lactic acid...
The treatment to relieve the cramping is Magnesium/Epsom salts soaking the feet.
Elders with mobility issues (pain or swelling of feet) may not be able to walk far, walk through the soft sandy beach to get to the hard, compacted wet sand where it would be okay to walk.
Walk less far, when it is cooler, not in the heat. Ask for advice from her doctor, or family. Elevate feet and legs, maybe ice for pain.
Proceed with caution.  Test any swelling by pushing your finger gently into the swelling near her ankles, then if a slight depression stays in the skin after removing the pressure, , it is called pitting edema.  Stop exercising if so, and report your findings.

What could be better than walking to improve her life! Good job. As tolerated.

Disclaimer--not an expert, not a doctor, this comment is not medical advice, and would not cover your elder's conditions overall, and are unknown.  For informational purposes only.  imo.
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Ella, it is fairly common for older people to have cold and painful legs/feet. It is often because of poor circulation. The muscles have pain when there isn't enough blood getting to them. It can also be because of neuropathy. Doctors can prescribe medications for neuropathy that may help if that is the problem.

What you did soaking her feet in epsom salt was totally okay. In fact, it may have been just what she needed if she had low magnesium. It can cause cramping if Mg gets too low. Don't worry that you may have done any harm. She probably enjoyed the soak if she had pain.

If the pain started after she began exercising, my guess would be that her leg arteries aren't letting enough blood get to her muscles. Older people often get blockages in their arteries that have to be cleaned if it gets bad enough. What you did with the epsom salt wouldn't have harmed her if this was the case, either. Don't worry. You sound like a great caregiver.
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If she is diabetic she may have neuropathy which is described as "nerve pain". But some circulation issues, high blood pressure and bad shoes can even cause this.
Make sure she is wearing proper footwear to prevent any cuts or scrapes to her feet. At 83 some decrease in circulation is bound to be there. Keep her walking though! Great exercise for her to do!
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Her legs do not seem swollen, her feet do get swollen sometimes, specially during day time but it is really hot here so that could be the case. They look fine now, but she just had them soaked in cool water. I take her for a walk on the beach in the evenings to deep her feet in the water, and she loves it but she still complains a little bit when we get back home. She does not want to go to the doctor, she tells me her feet hurt all the time just because she is old and that is no reason to see a doctor. She does not like doctors, and I cannot force her, obviously, so I guess I will just continue to watch her. Thank you so much! I am really clueless on the whole issue, I just love her so much and wanted to do something nice for her and my friends.
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