Column: Women and fall foot pain


Commentary by Dr. David Sullivan

For many women, fall is a time to bring back their favorite high-heeled boots or pumps. Unfortunately, though, this return to fall footwear can lead to foot problems.

Why is that the case? Suddenly, shoes are tighter and heels are higher, causing bunion and hammertoe discomfort. While tight shoes don’t cause bunions or hammertoes, they can make conditions worse and cause pain.

Bunions happen when the big toe leans towards the second toe, rather than pointing straight ahead. This throws the bones out of alignment and produces a bump. Pain or soreness often happens along the side of the foot near the big toe.

With hammertoes, the joints in your toe stay bent, making it painful to wear shoes because of the constant friction. Corns and calluses may develop, and open sores may form.

Prevent fall foot pain

To prevent fall foot pain when you must wear high heels or pointy-toed shoes, see my tips below:

1. Choose square-toed styles: Swap pointy-toed styles for square toe boxes. Square-toe styles give enough room to prevent discomfort and avoid pressing on existing bunions or hammertoes.

2. Wear in moderation: Limit wearing these styles to special occasions and change to comfier shoes after an hour or two.

3. Choose appropriate footwear: If you have a desk job, you may be able to wear these styles from time to time. But if you are on your feet all day, wear supportive shoes and keep heel heights to 1 1/2 inches or lower.

4. Try padding: To prevent blisters or foot pain, add pads to footwear in strategic pressure points.

5. Listen to your body: Stop wearing shoes that hurt right away. Ask us if orthotics can help make them more wearable. If not, it may be time to let them go.

6. Come in for a visit: Have you noticed that fall foot pain isn’t going away after a day or two? Schedule an immediate appointment before foot pain becomes a year-round concern!