Treatment tips for common high heel problems

While high heels are fashionable and may make “statement”, your feet may pay for it in the long run.

Realistically, it is unlikely that women will stop wearing high heels. One study showed 42 percent of women admitted they’d wear a shoe they liked even if it gave them discomfort, and 73 percent admitted to already having foot related issues. That being said, there is some precious cargo in those feet: 26 bones, 33 joints, and over a 100 muscles, ligaments and tendons, and they are important to take care of.

Here are several high heel related issues that I often see in the office and some tips on how to prevent them.


Although high heels may not be a cause of bunions they can certainly aggravate. The often narrow font portion of the shoe or “toe box” can often rub on the bone on the inside of the great toe joint. This can aggravate the skin and inflame the tissue in this region.

Tip: Try to find a heel with a wide toe box if possible.

Achilles tendonitis

In a high heel the ankle is held in a down position all day. When this occurs the Achilles tendon is placed in a shortened or contracted position. When one comes out of the high heel, the Achilles tendon has to be re-stretched out for normal walking, and this can lead to tendonitis.

Tip: Performing calf and Achilles stretching exercises can limit the discomfort related to this.

Ball of foot pain (forefoot overload)

With high heels, more pressure is naturally placed through the ball of foot. In fact, with a three-inch heel there is 76 percent more weight through the ball of the foot. When this occurs the joints in the front of the foot can be inflamed, which we call metatarsophalangeal joint synovitis or forefoot overload.

Tip: Try to place a silicone pad in your high heel this may alleviate some of this excess pressure. Also like with achilles tendonitis, calf and achilles stretching exercises can be helpful.

So next time your putting on those high heels, keep these tips in mind, your feet will thank you in the morning!

If you’re interested in more information about Baylor Scott & White orthopedic services, visit our website, or contact one of our physicians at MyBSWHealth.com

About the author

Dr. Sarang Desai
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Dr. Desai is a board certified orthopedic surgeon who specializes in injuries and disorders of the foot and ankle. He was an All-American athlete and continues to lead an active lifestyle lifting weights, doing triathlons and participating in yoga.

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Treatment tips for common high heel problems