Women have an odd relationship with their feet. Their feet are pampered with foot soaks, lotions, and pedicures and decorated with nail polish, tattoos, and ankle bracelets. Yet they are forced into shoes that are too small, too pointed, and too high-heeled, and expected not to protest. Though other issues may be a factor, the kinds of shoes that are worn are definitely related to women’s foot problems.
Could High Heels Be Hurting My Feet?
When you slip on a pair of heels, your weight comes to rest on the ball of your foot. This puts extra pressure on the joints between your foot bones and toe bones. Also, since most heels have narrower fronts than other styles, your toes are pinched together at the ends. Your foot will naturally slide “downhill” toward the front, pressing your toes even more tightly into the toe cap. In addition, the back section above the sole (counter) is often tight and rigid to keep the shoe from sliding off your heel. All of these can cause painful problems in your feet.
Burning, Aching Bunions
With tight shoes, the tip of your big toe is bent toward the other toes. This causes the joint where it attaches to your foot to move in the opposite direction, forming a large, bony bump on the side of your foot. It is estimated that footwear is the cause of about a third of such cases, with heredity, foot structure, and gait problems accounting for the rest. A bunion will rub against your shoe and cause redness and swelling. In later stages, the joint itself can become quite painful and make wearing shoes and walking difficult. Bunions are among the most common of women’s foot problems.
If I Had a Hammertoe
This toe deformity happens when the toe curls because of a muscle imbalance. Underlying conditions like nerve problems can be a factor. However, keeping your toes curled in tight, pointed shoes can cause the upper toe muscles to stretch and weaken while the lower ones tighten and shorten. The result is that they can no longer hold your toe straight, and the middle joint bends up and rubs against the top of the shoe. You can develop a corn on the joint or a callus on the end of the toe where it presses on the sole, and the toe can become rigid and painful.
Neuromas Nailing Your Toes
When the toes are pinched, the nerves between them can be damaged from the constant pressure. A Morton’s neuroma can form—usually between the third and fourth toes—as the nerve tissue becomes thick and swollen from the irritation. Damaged nerves cause numbness, tingling, a pins-and-needles feeling, or sharp shooting pains in your toes, and make it difficult to walk as the condition deteriorates. You need a knowledgeable health care provider who understands feet to deal with these nerve issues.
Heels That Go Bump
Pressure from a tight heel counter can contribute to a bony bump forming on the back of your heel bone called Haglund’s deformity. The bone forms extra tissue where the friction occurs, but that only causes your heel to rub against the shoe even more. Calluses or blisters can form, and the protective bursa where the Achilles tendon attaches to the bone can become irritated and inflamed (bursitis).
Wearing high heels puts your feet into unnatural positions and throws off your balance. The lack of arch support can mean heel pain from plantar fasciitis. Constant wearing of heels can shorten the Achilles tendon, making it more prone to tendinitis or rupture. Loss of balance could lead to a fall or a sprained ankle. You could even end up with leg, thigh, and back pain because the natural alignment of your bones is thrown off.
Help for Sore Feet
Whatever the cause of women’s foot problems, there is a foot clinic that can help. Contact Abbott Foot & Ankle Clinic in Collingwood, ON, for an examination. We can help you trace the source of your pain and design the best treatment. Call (705) 444-9929 for an appointment, or schedule one through our website to get your feet back in top form again.