The phrase “Beauty is Pain” can be well understood by any woman who has worn a pair of stylish stilettos for an entire evening. High heels have been a popular accessory since the 1400s, and despite their impractical nature they’ve stuck around. But, have you ever thought about the long-term effects wearing high heels may have on your foot health? Below are some of the most common maladies associated with wearing high heels:
· Morton’s neuroma: Many high heeled shoes taper to a point, which crowds the toes together. This crowding can impinge on the nerves between the toes, causing irritation and thickening of tissue around the nerve. This is most common between the third and fourth toe and is characterized by a sharp, burning sensation.
· Osteoarthritis of the knee: Walking in high heels alters posture and puts more pressure on the inside of the knee joint. Osteoarthritis is a common ‘wear and tear’ arthritis associated with aging; however, wearing high heels may speed up this process and cause symptoms at an earlier age. In fact, one study found that knee joint pressure is increased by up to 26% when a woman wears high heels!
· Metatarsalgia: Wearing high heels puts abnormal pressure on the ball of the foot, which can lead to joint pain. As the heel height increases, so does the pressure on the forefoot. For example, a 3 inch heel increases the pressure on the forefoot by 76%!
· Ankle Sprains: High heels impair balance and increase the risk of falling and twisting an ankle. This risk is especially significant if walking on uneven ground.
· Pump Bump: The rigid backs of high heels can irritate the back of the heel bone. Over time, this can cause a bony enlargement which can be painful and irritating.
High heels are a footwear fashion that is not going to go out of style any time soon. However, before you put on those sky high stilettos think about this list of conditions as well as the wise words of Benjamin Franklin: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”. Perhaps, opt for a slightly lower heel or a stylish pair of comfortable flats instead. As always, if you or someone you know has any foot issues, please consider making an appointment with Dr. Gary N. Friedlander or Dr. Jay C. Larson at Sole Foot and Ankle Specialists in Glendale, Arizona.