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Heels Go Sky-High … and So Do Foot and Ankle Problems

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July 5, 2012

Middletown, NY — Fashion watchers and shoe mavens say that this summer’s styles are dominated by pointed toes, cut-out booties on ultra-high platforms, and sky-high stilettos. While the new season’s fashions put a smile on the face of designers and the women, and sometimes men, who buy their shoes, they may not make feet very happy. The podiatrists at Hudson Valley Ambulatory Surgery encourage fans of fashion-forward footwear to find the balance between beauty and comfort.

“I always am surprised when patients tell me that they wear fashionable shoes that are uncomfortable,” says Dr. Paul Atlas, a podiatrist at Hudson Valley Ambulatory Surgery. “They’re not alone. According to a 2010 survey conducted by the American Podiatric Medical Association, over half of women experience foot pain and two-thirds wish they felt more comfortable in shoes.”

Foot problems caused by sky-high heels and pointy toes range from relatively common conditions such as ingrown toenails, bunions (bony formations that change the shape of the foot and big toe), and corns (raised, hardened, painful calluses on toes) to curled-under hammertoes. Not only do this summer’s fashions worsen these by squishing and putting pressure on toes but they also can increase foot pain by forcing excess pressure on the ball of the foot. The higher the heel, the greater the force and pain from foot bones pressing into the sole of the shoe. Repeated wearing of high heels also shortens the Achilles tendon and can cause pain when the wearer switches to low-heeled shoes or sneakers.

“The obvious solution – wear low heels – is not very popular with our patients,” notes Dr. Atlas. “So my number one suggestion is to shop for shoes that are comfortable for your feet and to choose styles that don’t rub against or put pressure on your problem spots. If you can, also fit a cushioned insole under the ball of your foot to offer extra padding.”

However, a visit to the podiatrist may be necessary to relieve ongoing discomfort. Common treatments include removal of corns and calluses, surgical correction of a bunion to straighten the bone, surgical lengthening of the Achilles tendon, and therapy for stress fractures that can develop from prolonged wearing of sky-high shoes.

“The best news is that this summer’s fashions also include espadrilles, wedges, and flat sandals that are much less damaging to the feet and comfortable to wear,” says Dr. Atlas.

Hudson Valley Ambulatory Surgery, LLC, is located at 75 Crystal Run Road, Suite 225, Middletown, NY 10941. For additional information, please call 845-692-9900.

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