Should Women Reconsider Wearing High Heels Frequently?

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The Department of Podiatry at La Peer Health Systems agrees with the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons that the prolonged wearing of high heels or poorly fitting shoes contribute to severe bunions and other foot problems.

Since wearing shoes that cause the toes to be squeezed together is a common factor in bunions, it explains the high prevalence of the disorder among women

Bunion surgery is a common reason patients come to see the doctors in the podiatry department at La Peer Health Systems in Beverly Hills. While both men and women can get bunions, the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons (AAOS) found that bunions are nine times more common in women than men.1 The development of bunions is frequently attributed to the prolonged wearing of poorly fitting shoes, including shoes that are tight, narrow, have a pointed toe and/or a high heel. Bunions can also be a result of heredity, arthritis or polio, but these only account for a small percentage of the overall amount of patients with bunions. The most common factor causing bunions is faulty foot function and biomechanical imbalance of the tendons that function on the great toe.2

According to AAOS, 55% of women in the United States have bunions. “Since wearing shoes that cause the toes to be squeezed together is a common factor in bunions, it explains the high prevalence of the disorder among women,” said Dr. Kamran Jamshidinia, a podiatrist at La Peer.

Constantly wearing high heels fuels the development of bunions because the tight, narrow shoes put pressure on the joint at the base of the big toe, the metatarsophalangeal (MTP). Bunions form when the normal balance of forces that is exerted on the joints and tendons of the foot is disrupted, which leads to instability in the joint and causes the deformity. “It is important for women to be aware of the fact that high heels, specifically shoes with a heel over two inches in height, can cause foot deformities. If women are knowledgeable about the cause of bunions, they will be able to make smarter footwear choices and have custom molded orthotics made to prevent the progression of these unsightly and often very painful deformities. And, if they have already started to develop bunions, recognizing them in the early stages will allow for non-surgical treatments to be more effective,” said Dr. Jamshidinia.

There are a variety of surgical and non-surgical treatment options available to patients with bunions.3 If the symptoms are not severe, non-surgical treatments include resting the foot by avoiding excessive walking, wearing loose wider shoes, stretching exercises, motion control running shoes with custom designed orthotic insoles, taking anti-inflammatory medication, or cold pack application to relieve the pain caused by the bunion.

However, if the patient experiences persistent pain, there are surgical intervention methods. Bunion surgery aims to correct toe deformities and relieve the pain. Surgical procedures are defined by two categories: head procedures and base procedures. In the head procedure, an operation is done on the joint of the toe, where as the base procedure is performed on the joint behind the largest toe. In general, patient recovery depends on the type of surgery performed. Head procedures allow for immediate walking post operatively in a special post operative shoe designed to allow for healing while the patient is able to stand and walk post operatively. The base procedures, which are designed for more severe deformities, require non weight bearing in a special boot with crutches keeping pressure off of the foot for 4 to 6 weeks.

The podiatry department at La Peer Health Systems deals specifically and deeply with the human foot and all the conditions, diseases and infections that can affect it. The La Peer podiatrists and foot and ankle specialists make their diagnosis’ using cutting-edge technology and equipment and prescribe treatments and surgical procedures where necessary.

La Peer Health Systems, located in Beverly Hills in Los Angeles county, focuses on excellence in patient care and offers the most advanced and contemporary treatments and equipment that the medical world has access to. With 42 doctors across 13 departments, from anesthesiology to urology, La Peer offers comprehensive and widespread medical treatments for all patients. More information about La Peer Health Systems can be found at


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Risa Luksa
La Peer Surgery Center
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