High Heels Take Heavy Toll On Feet

The Early Show (CBS)—NEW YORK CITY—June 18, 2007

With summer in full swing, lots of women will be slipping and sliding into their high heels and strappy sandals, but fashion and function aren't always a good fit.

Lisa Dietz loves shoes, but a painful foot condition forced her to kick the high heel habit.

"For the past number of years I've had a problem with my toe—a condition called hallux rigidus—and I couldn't bend it and it became painful," she told The Early Show medical correspondent Dr. Emily Senay. "I'd like to wear nice shoes. Unfortunately, with the problem, I've had to resort to more utilitarian looking shoes."

High heels can lead to a host of problems such as corns, calluses, bunions, hammertoes, stress fractures and painful nerve damage. Surgery helped ease Dietz's pain, but eventually her goal is to get those sexy shoes back.

"Shoes are challenging to be on feet. In fact it's hard to be a foot," said David Levine, M.D., of Hospital for Special Surgery in Manhattan, who is Dietz's foot surgeon. "It's at the bottom of gravity. It has to walk and carry our weight for, hopefully, 80-plus years, and we stuff them into things that sometimes do, and sometimes don't, exactly fit right."

But nothing, he said, is more challenging than a high heel shoe like a Manolo or a Jimmy Choo.

"These are challenges to certain feet that can't tolerate high shoes, and they're perfectly acceptable in feet that can," he said.

Dr. Levine says that to maximize your foot fetish, there are subtle things you can do to minimize damage:

  • Make sure the toe box is wider than the front of your foot 
  • When shopping, be sure to try on both shoes 
  • Shop in the evening when feet are larger due to swelling 
  • Wear lower shoes as a rule and make a higher heel the exception.

To view the full story, visit CBSNews.com

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