Pretty shoes can create ugly feet for women

Thirty-nine percent of women say they wear high heels every day, and 75 percent of them admit experiencing regular foot pain and bunions, arthritic big toes, calluses, hammer toes and warts.

"Many women wear shoes to work every day that look great but they are simply too small," said Pedro Cosculluela, orthopaedic surgeon with The Methodist Hospital, Houston.

"The biggest problems we encounter are related to the height of the heel and/or the narrowness of the toe box," added Cosculluela.

The narrow toe box makes it hard for many women to properly fit their entire foot into the shoe. This poor fit can lead to toe deformities in many women. These include bunions, hammertoes, and calluses. A bunion is a bump along the inside of the big toe, just before the joint.

Bunions are typically associated with deviation of the toe that is caused by external pressure from shoes that have a small toe box. With time, and ongoing improper shoe wear, the deformity and the bump become permanent and can worsen, according to a Methodist Hospital statement.

"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 said.

"This, and other foot problems women experience because of poor shoe wear, do not happen overnight. It's a gradual process that can happen over a period of years."
High heels also bend the toes up and can move the padding under the knuckles of the foot further down, exposing more bone to the bottom of the shoes, causing a great deal of pain.

Cosculluela adds that the frequent use of high heels is associated with the development of tight calf muscles. This can lead to other painful foot problems such as plantar fasciitis, flat feet and Achilles tendonitis.

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