Form Over Function

This last week, I saw a new patient with bone spurs on all ten of her toes, which is not an unusual thing for a podiatrist to see; but, the issue here is Cindy is only 23 years old. Looking over to the side of the examination table, I saw a pair of shoes with four inch spike heels. When I asked how often and how long she wore these shoes, her response was, Since I was 17 and five to six days a week.

Cindy was beaming over her collection of high heels. Over forty pairs in all colors and shapes fill my closet to match my outfits. Do they all hurt? Yes, said the Houston resident, But its worth it. She cant imagine life without these shoes. Like so many patients I see, she chooses fashion over function and now needs surgery to stop the pain.

According to the American Podiatric Medical Association, fifty-three percent of women experience foot pain and twenty-five percent who wear high heels every day are more likely to develop foot and ankle problems that require treatment or surgery. People are so accepting of pain that they dont question it. Foot pain is not normal.

Many problems can develop from wearing high heels. Your Achilles tendons become tight, which can cause back and hip pain and make it difficult to walk barefoot or in flats. Other conditions include bunions, hammertoes, Haglands Deformity (pump bump), and callouses to balls of the foot, nerve pain, arthritis, and many more.

If you must wear high-heeled shoes here are some tips to follow:

  • Stick to a wedge rather than a stiletto
  • Keep heel height to a maximum of two inches
  • Buy shoes at the end of the day
  • Make sure they are wide enough
  • Toes need to be one finger width from end of shoes
  • Purchase shoes with some support to arch
  • Purchase shoes with some cushion on soles

Ballet Flats and flip-flops can be just as harmful because of the lack of support. Discuss proper shoe gear with your podiatrist. We dont expect you to give up high heels. Just try to be more sensible. Trying to predict who will develop foot and ankle pain is like trying to predict which smoker is going to get lung cancer; but, if you wear high heels every day, chances are you will have pain and problems.

Dr. Bowman of Houston Foot Specialists can be reached by calling 713-467-8886 or online at If you would like to have Dr. Bowman speak to your group about foot and ankle health, please ask for Maria to set it up.

Category: Foot Problems

Tags: ankle pain, Arthritis, Bone Spurs, Bunions, Callouses, foot pain, Footwear, Haglands Deformity, Hammertoes, heel Pain, High Heels, Nerve Pain, shoes, Stilletto, Women's Shoes