Ouch! Looking good has its costs…

January 10, 2014

toe joint painLadies, you might want to think twice before slipping on those high heels. Statistics have shown that high heels are one of the leading causes of foot problems in women. High heels can create issues such as heel pain, toe pain & deformities, osteoarthritis and painful trapped nerves. Surprisingly, women make up about 90 percent of the annual surgeries for bunions, hammertoes and trapped nerves. People tend to walk an average of 10,000 steps a day and women who walk in high heels shift the force of each step to the ball of the foot and onto the toes causing damage. One study revealed that wearing a 3-inch high heel added seven times the amount of stress on the foot than wearing a one-inch heel.

toe fusionAlready experiencing pain? There are several different options for women suffering with joint pain in their feet depending on what type of disease or injury exists. For people with severe arthritis in their toes, some doctors may tell you that your only option is a total toe replacement or joint fusion. A fusion is a procedure where the phalangeal bone and the metatarsal bones are cut and shaped to fit together. The two bones are then aligned, set at a predetermined angle and permanently fixed with either screws and/or a plate so the two bones “fuse” together. Once fusion is achieved, the toe can no longer bend, changing the way you walk. Although it can provide excellent foot/ankle pain control, a fusion is considered a procedure of last resort because it eliminates all toe movement, making it especially difficult or impossible for women who want to continue to wear high heels.

toe fusion alternativesAre you feeling pain in your toes but can’t part with your beloved heels? Just because there are risks of wearing high heels, doesn’t mean you should have to stop wearing them completely. Unlike a fusion procedure, the Arthrosurface Toe HemiCAP® can relieve the pain in your toe and restore your natural range of motion, making it easy for women to still walk in the heels they love! There is also minimal bone removed when compared to joint replacements or fusions and either one of those treatments can still be an option in the future if the pain comes back from progressive disease.

If you wish to continue wearing high heels and are not ready for a surgical
option, here are 6 tips to lessen your chance of complications:

Step One
Step One

Stand on a piece of paper and have a friend draw a tracing of your weight-bearing bare foot.

Step One
Step Two
Step Two

Now take the dress shoes you most commonly wear and place them over the tracing.

Step Two
Check Your Fit
Check Your Fit

If your forefoot is much larger and rounder than the toe box of your shoe, you may be setting yourself up for painful foot problems in the near future.

Check Your Fit
  1. Choose sensible shoes with low heels (an inch and a half or less and a wide heel base)
  2. Wear soft insoles to reduce the impact on your knees
  3. Wear the right size shoes
  4. Wear heels on days you will not be doing a lot of walking or standing
  5. Alternate your shoe choice throughout the week
  6. Stretch your calf muscles



1. Kerrigan DC, Todd MK, Riley PO. Knee osteoarthritis and high-heeled shoes. The Lancet 1998;351:1399-1402.

2. Kerrigan DC, Lelas JL, Karvosky ME. Women’s shoes and knee osteoarthritis. The Lancet 2001;357:1097-1098.

3. Kerrigan DC, Lelas JL, Bryant M, Boxer J, Della Croce U, Riley PO. Moderate heeled shoes and knee joint torques relevant to the development and progression of knee osteoarthritis. Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation 2005;86:871-875.

4. Kerrigan DC, Franz JR, Keenan GS, Dicharry J, Della Croce U, Wilder RP. The effect of running shoes on lower extremity joint torques. PM&R 2009;1:1058-1063.






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