Dr. Jacoby explains how wearing high heeled shoes can affect a woman's health.
Let’s talk about high heels. High heels not only affect what the foot does, but it affects the entire body. Now let’s talk about what it does to the foot. Primarily what it does to the foot is causes what we call forefoot pain, and included in forefoot pain is bunions, metatarsalgia, and neuromas. Neuromas are pinched nerves between the metatarsals.
There are three things that we see as podiatrists most commonly, but we also see ankle problems, sprained ankles – because high heels cause an instability of the ankle – and inversion sprains, which means when the ankle rolls over; it’s very common, not only in high heels, but platform shoes. Platform shoes, although not as popular today as it once was, it’s still a common problem and is grouped in the high heel shoe.
It’s interesting where high heels came from. High heels are many cultures, started in England because Queen Elizabeth was short. She wanted to have more height, and lots of people around her court wanted to emulate her height, so they kept getting higher and higher shoes and platform shoes.
The same thing happened in China, as well. And just to talk about how shoes shape the foot, when I was in China in Taipei, I did surgery to undo the damage of foot-bound people, and they took their high heel shoes to the nth degree where they wanted to make the shoe or the foot as small as they possibly could.
And they made the foot so small they couldn’t walk, and this was a sign of prosperity because if you couldn’t walk you had to be carried, and in order to be carried, you had to have a lot of money, and you had to marry into a socially higher class.
That has stopped in Asia, but is very prevalent in the United States now. Women want fashion and they wear high heels, but these problems are a consequence. Knee problems–another big area of problems with high heel shoes. High heels contract the muscles in the back of the legs; that’s what gives it the shape as high heels, to give the calf muscle more of a definition.
And then the lumbar spine is increased in the angle of the lumbar spine, but that’s what causes back problems. High heels cause lots and lots of problems. Even moving up, what we call the kinetic chain, meaning one bone changing to the mechanics to the next bone. A lot of people that wear high heel shoes have headaches. The cervical spine and the lower portion of the neck, the angle is changed.
I even think in the studies that have been done that eyesight is affected by high heel shoes as well because the head has to be tilted forward in order to see directly in front of you but the neck is bent. So the eyeballs changed in shape, and glasses need to be used to accommodate. So when you say high heel shoes, it’s not just feet; it’s the whole body.
About Dr. Jacoby, D.P.M.:
Dr. Richard Jacoby, D.P.M., graduated from the Pennsylvania College of Podiatric Medicine. He completed his residency at Parkview Hospital, Philadelphia, specializing in foot and ankle surgery. Board certified by the American Board of Podiatric Foot and Ankle Surgeons, he is currently president of Valley Foot Surgeons in Scottsdale, Arizona. In addition, Dr. Jacoby is chairman of the board of Healthcare Networks of America.
Dr. Jacoby has been named the 2010 President of The Association of Extremity Nerve Surgeons.