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Dangerous Fashions: The Connection Between High Heels And Bunions

by Joann Dunn

If you have bunions on your small and big toes, you may want to change your style of footwear, especially if you love to wear high-heeled shoes like stilettos, pumps and platforms. Although they may create the perfect look for your fashionable outfits, high heels can also create a host of foot problems, including painful bunions. Here's the connection between high-heeled shoes and bunions — and what you can do to improve the quality and health of your toes.

Make the Connection

According to a new study compiled by the American Podiatric Medical Association, almost 50 percent of American women wear high-heeled shoes. An astounding 71 percent of these women continue to wear their heels, even after they complain of foot pain and other symptoms.

Other sources report that women who wear narrow-toed, high-heeled shoes force their toes together as they walk. This unnatural position of the toes can create bunions, which develop when the toe joints move out of placement.

Your podiatrist may recommend that you put aside your high heels for more foot-friendly shoes to protect your toes from bunions. If you don't change your footwear, you may change your gait or way of walking instead.

High heels shorten the muscles in your calves instead of elongate them. The action places pressure on the bones in the balls of your feet and toes. As you walk, your legs and hips need to stay balanced, or you may topple over in your efforts to stay upright. 

In addition, the bones of your large and small toes gradually move outward from the pressure placed on them by your high heels. These toe joints develop extra tissue on them as they attempt to compensate for the movement. The bunions also trigger the symptoms below:

  • Pain in your toes as you run or walk — This symptom occurs when the joints of your bunions press up against your shoes.
  • Swelling in the toes — Blood may have a hard time traveling to your toes because the damaged joints may pinch or block off the blood vessels in the soles of your feet.
  • Numbness in your toes from the limited blood circulation — The damaged toe joints may pinch the nerves in your feet and interfere with your ability to feel sensations in the skin around your toes and bunions.

You can stop the symptoms above by seeing your podiatrist for treatment and by changing your footwear.

Change Your Footwear and Get Podiatric Treatment

Wearing flat footwear that features a thick sole and wide toe box may not be as fashionable as your high heels, but the footwear can help reduce the pain caused by your bunions. If you insist on wearing more fashionable shoes, choose shoes with 1-inch heels. Anything over 2 inches can make your bunions worse, as well as cause muscle strain and pain in your lower body.

Your podiatrist can also treat your bunions with surgery, or he or she may prescribe foot orthotics to ease your pain. Your doctor will tell you more during your appointment.

Although high-heeled shoes can improve your style and appearance, they can permanently damage your toes and feet. See your podiatrist like Aboite Podiatry Associates PC for more information about bunions and your footwear.


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Pregnant? What You Need to Know About Your Pregnancy

During my first pregnancy, I spent a lot of time pushing pillows behind my back trying to find comfort. As the size of the baby grew, so did my discomfort. By the time she was born, I was more than ready to give birth. When I found out I was pregnant again, I was determined that I would not suffer through the same discomforts. I started researching ways to ease the symptoms of pregnancy, including back pain. I created this blog to help other expectant moms find remedies to deal with those symptoms that can be emotionally and physically draining.

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