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Problems linked to high-heeled shoes

October 27, 2003

The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons lists the following foot problems often linked with high heels or improperly fitting shoes:

  • Morton's neuroma, a thickening of the tissue that surrounds the digital nerve leading to the toes, occurs as the nerve passes under the ligament connecting the toe bones in the forefoot. Morton's neuroma most frequently develops between the third and fourth toes, usually in response to irritation, trauma or excessive pressure. High-heeled shoes and tight, narrow shoes can aggravate the condition. The incidence of Morton's neuroma is 8 to 10 times greater in women than in men.

  • Hammertoes are joint deformities of the second, third or fourth toes that make the toes resemble hammers. Shoes that narrow toward the toe push the smaller toes into a bent position. A higher heel forces the foot down and squishes the toes against the shoe, increasing the pressure and the bend in the toe. The toe muscles eventually become unable to straighten the toe, even when there is no confining shoe.

  • Bunions, which are swollen, sore bumps on the joint that connects the big toe to the foot, are common deformities often blamed on wearing tight, narrow shoes and high heels. As the bunion gets bigger, the big toe may angle toward the second toe, or even move all the way under it. Pressure from your big toe may force your second toe out of alignment, sometimes overlapping the third toe. Nine out of 10 occurrences of bunions are on women.

  • Corns are calluses that form on the toes because the bones push up against the shoe and put pressure on the skin. The surface layer of the skin thickens and builds up, irritating the tissues underneath. Common causes of corns are tight shoes that squeeze the foot and high-heeled shoes that increase the pressure on the forefoot.


- Source: www.aaos.org

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