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Stanford Medicine

Women's Health

Do pretty shoes lead to ugly problems?

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When it comes to shoes, style and comfort are, for the most part, mutually exclusive. And now it appears, according to a release from Methodist Hospital in Houston, those pretty shoes can lead to not-so-pretty problems like bunions, arthritic big toes, calluses, hammer toes, and discomfort from plantar warts.

Orthopedic surgeon Pedro Cosculluela, MD, says the main issue is that women choose ill-fitting shoes that can lead to toe deformities: “Many women wear shoes to work every day that look great but they are simply too small….As the deformity worsens, the big toe loses its ability to properly carry the load, which can lead to increase pressure along two through five. This can, in turn, lead to pain and cause hammertoes and cross-over toe deformities.”

Cosculluela says these problems do not happen overnight, but rather from a gradual process that can happen over a period of years. There are some measures that help alleviate some of these issues, such as wearing toe pads, toe separators or surgery for the more serious cases. But, as Cosculleula points out, it all goes back to shoe fit and suggests that women do a simple test: “Take a pen and draw around your bare foot. Put the shoe over the drawing, if your toes stick out of the shoe, they are too small and you might want to try a bigger pair that will cause you much less discomfort.

I must confess, I choose the cute factor over comfort on many occasions. If my poor feet could talk, I’m afraid there’d be some expletives involved.

Previously: Study links high heels to osteoarthritis and joint problems and Ouch! How high heels can shrink leg muscle, cause pain
Photo by TPWP

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