Heel Pain Alert: The Dark Side of Looking Fabulous in
It is estimated that over 50% of women experience foot problems from wearing uncomfortable or ill-fitting shoes. This often leads to heel pain, one of the most common foot ailments. In fact, about 2 million Americans receive heel pain treatment. While there are many causes, regularly wearing high heels is a major contributor.
So why do so many women continue wearing heels despite the pain? The answer lies in the allure of fashion and the confidence a great pair of heels can provide. However, the costs often outweigh the benefits. At Medanta, we want to raise awareness on the dangers of prolonged high heel use and provide solutions for those already suffering from resulting heel pain.
Understanding Heel Pain
Heel pain refers to any type of pain or discomfort in the heel area that worsens with standing or walking. It can range from mild soreness to more debilitating pain.
The most common cause of heel pain is plantar fasciitis, which is inflammation of a thick ligament called the plantar fascia that runs across the bottom of the foot from the heel bone to the toes. This ligament acts as a shock absorber and supports the foot's arch.
When you wear high heels, your foot is forced into an unnatural position. The inclined angle of the heels causes more pressure and tension on the plantar fascia ligament. Over time, this strain can lead to tiny tears in the fascia tissue, resulting in inflammation and heel pain.
Wearing high heels consistently puts a lot of stress and pressure on the plantar fascia. The higher the heel and the more time you spend in heels, the more strain it causes. Just 1-2 inches of extra height in heels alters the body's center of gravity and forces the ankles, knees, and hips out of alignment.
Over time, this unnatural posture from high heels causes the ligaments and muscles to shorten. The plantar fascia also starts developing microtears, becoming inflamed, and losing its ability to absorb shock. All this strain and damage to the plantar fascia tissue eventually causes the characteristic stabbing heel pain. Along with plantar fasciitis, wearing ill-fitting or narrow high heels can also lead to foot problems like bunions, corns, hammertoes, and Morton's neuroma.
The Dark Side of Fabulous Heels
While heels may look fabulous, they can wreak havoc on our feet over time. Here are some of the most common repercussions of wearing high heels regularly:
Chronic Heel Pain
The consistent stress and strain on the feet from wearing ill-fitting high heels frequently leads to chronic long-term heel pain. As the plantar fascia ligament becomes inflamed and develops microtears, the stabbing heel pain keeps getting worse over time.
Women who wear heels daily often complain of heel pain that just won't go away. The pain and discomfort are constant even when not wearing heels, and only keeps increasing. This chronic heel pain can become debilitating over time.
Altered Gait Pattern
High heels significantly alter the natural walking pattern and gait. When wearing heels, people tend to take shorter strides and strike the ground at the ball of the foot rather than the heel. This puts additional stress on the metatarsals and toe joints.
Over time, wearing heels can cause shortening of the Achilles tendon and calf muscles as well. This leads to foot instability and improper body alignment when walking, often resulting in pain, instability, and injuries.
Prolonged high heel wear can cause various permanent foot deformities like bunions, hammertoes, and crowding of toes.
The inclined slope of high heels forces the foot into an unnaturally constricted toe box. This consistent pressure and friction can cause bunions and corns on the big toe joint. It can also force the smaller toes into an abnormal bent position leading to hammertoes.
Lower Back Problems
High heels significantly change posture by tilting the pelvis forward and arching the lower back. This puts additional strain and stress on the spine leading to back pain issues.
Wearing heels regularly forces the back muscles to remain contracted in an unnatural position for extended periods. Over time, this causes muscle tightness and spasms resulting in chronic lower back pain and problems.
In addition to physical pain and deformities, constantly struggling with heel, foot, and back pain can take a mental toll. It can negatively impact daily activities, exercise abilities, and overall quality of life.
The inability to fully participate in activities due to nagging heel and foot pain causes tremendous mental distress and frustration for many women. It hampers productivity at work, caring for family, relationships, and mental health.
What Every Woman Should Know about Heel Pain?
While occasional heel use may be fine, frequent all-day wear can create serious problems. Here are some tips:
- Minimize Daily Wear: Reserve heels for special occasions rather than all-day wear. Opt for well-cushioned flats or low wedges for daily use.
- Watch the Height: Limit heel height to 1-2 inches at most for regular use. The higher the heels, the worse the impact.
- Give Feet a Break: If you must wear heels for long periods, bring a pair of flats to give feet a break when possible.
- Visit a Specialist: Consult doctors specializing in foot health for symptoms of heel pain or deformities and get heel pain relief.
Seeking Heel Pain Treatment at Medanta
At Medanta Hospital, we have top podiatrists and orthopedic surgeons experienced in treating various foot conditions, including heel pain. We offer advanced diagnostics, non-invasive treatment, and minimally invasive surgeries when needed.
Our doctors assess heel pain triggers and provide customized treatment plans. We also have sports medicine specialists to advise on injury prevention.
Visit our Foot & Ankle Specialists page to schedule an appointment with renowned doctors like Dr. Dinshaw Pardiwala and Dr. Bharat M. Dave. Read more patient testimonials to understand our treatment experience.
While regular heel use puts you at risk for pain and deformities, prompt expert care can help get you back on your feet! At Medanta, we provide compassionate heel pain relief focused on long-term recovery. Don't let heel pain hold you back from living your life to the fullest!