5 Painful Conditions Linked with High Heels

5 Painful Conditions Linked with High Heels

Besides a string of pearls, there are few accessories more timeless than a pair of high heels — they can even make a pair of jeans look runway-ready. 

However, the truth is that high heels are among the worst shoes for foot health. For starters, they make your foot and ankle incredibly unstable, which can lead to injury. They also affect your posture, change your gait, and throw off your balance. Even your back can take a beating from a day spent in heels. 

High heels also put you at risk of developing various painful foot conditions. Here, Drs. Matthew PadenDustin KruseThomas Ehlers, and Brett Sachs at Rocky Mountain Foot & Ankle take a closer look at five of the most common foot conditions connected to high heels. 

1. Plantar fasciitis

Your muscles are covered in a sheath of fibrous tissue called fascia. The fascia supports your muscles; when it’s healthy, it’s flexible and stretchy. When the fascia of the muscles in your feet becomes inflamed, irritated, or damaged, you develop plantar fasciitis

High-heeled shoes increase the pressure on every structure in your foot, including the muscles and fascia, which can lead to searing pain along the bottom of your foot and heel. 

Plantar fasciitis is especially painful with your first steps in the morning and can affect your ability to walk and engage in regular activities. 

2. Corns and calluses

Corns and calluses develop when hard, thick areas of skin build up on your feet, typically on the sides of your feet and between your toes. They’re benign, but they can become painful and inflamed. Wearing tight, restrictive high heels irritates the top and sides of your feet, leading to these painful bumps. 

3. Bunions

With your heels way off the ground, all the pressure of your body weight concentrates on the front of your foot, creating the perfect environment for a bunion to develop. Bunions are bony protrusions on the side of your foot where your big or pinky toe meets the rest of your foot. 

The excess stress wearing high heels puts on your big toe throws the joint out of alignment, pushing your big toe toward your other toes and stretching the joint out in the opposite direction. 

Bunions are usually preceded by calluses that turn into painful, red bumps. 

4. Hammertoe

Your big toe isn’t the only one in trouble. Your second, third, fourth, and little toe can succumb to the pressure of high heels and bend out of shape. We call this painful deformity hammertoe, where your toe knuckle locks into a bent position resembling a hammer claw.

5. Ingrown toenails

Normally, your toenails grow straight and are easily managed with clippers. When you wear high heels, your toes become crowded and squeezed, which can cause your toenail to curve and grow into the flesh. And with an ingrown toenail, you have the threat of infection in addition to pain. 

What now?

If high heels are part of your dress code, don’t panic. You can sidestep some of the dangers associated with high heels and get the help you need if and when problems arise. 

Our team of experienced foot and ankle specialists has years of experience treating virtually every kind of foot problem, from ingrown toenails to plantar fasciitis and stress fractures. We start by identifying exactly what caused your foot pain and then create a customized treatment plan to help you find relief. 

If you’re a chronic high heel-wearer, we may suggest adjusting your footwear routine. Here are the details. 

Wearing heels responsibly

We get it — you’re probably not going to toss your high heels, and we’re not necessarily saying you have to give them up for good. In fact, there’s a way you can keep your style intact without compromising your foot health. You can wear heels safely by:

Worried high heels have put your feet in jeopardy? We’d love to discuss your symptoms and help you develop a plan to stop foot problems in their tracks. Call our friendly staff, or use our online booking tool to schedule an appointment at any of our five conveniently located Colorado offices. 

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