How High Heels Could Lead to Bunion Surgery and Other Foot Problems

Posted by Dr. Jeffrey L. Adler

Aug 16, 2013 8:00:00 AM

high heel foot problemsWhat do the following names have in common: Jimmy Choo. Christian Louboutin. Manolo Blahnik. Steve Madden. Michael Kors. If you guessed they all make designer high heel shoes that most women go crazy for then this blog is for you. If you’re a high heel enthusiast who chooses to wear them more often than not then you should be aware of the effects they can have on your body and the foot issues they can lead to, such as ankle injuries, hammertoes and bunion surgery.


High heels are misunderstood the most when it comes to bunions. Many people think that they cause bunions, when in fact they just aggravate them. But before we get to high heels, bunions and treating them with bunion surgery, let’s talk about other foot problems that high heels could cause.


Ankle Injuries


What causes an ankle injury? It’s usually related to faulty foot wear that forces the foot and ankle into an unnatural position causing your walking to be unstable. Shoes that don’t fit correctly, clogs, sandals and – yep you guessed it – high heels can all contribute to ankle injuries by causing you to:

  • Trip or fall
  • Lose your balance when walking on an uneven surface
  • Twist or roll your ankle

In a nutshell, high heels throw off your balance which puts you at greater risk of falling and twisting your ankle.




A hammertoe is a deformity that causes the toe, usually the second, third or fourth toe, to bend at the middle joint. This produces a curly toe that resembles a hammer. Hammertoes are most likely to occur among women who constantly wear high heel shoes that don’t fit right because they are short, narrow or too tight. Most high heels have a narrow toe box which pushes the small toes into a bent position. Eventually, the muscles in these toes are unable to straighten. Like bunion surgery, there are surgical options like hammertoe surgery for long term treatment, but wearing shoes that fit correctly and avoiding high heels as much as possible can help.


Bunion Surgery


Bunions are actually hereditary. They’re a bone deformity that occurs when the big toe moves out of place. Bunions can be very painful by themselves. When you try to cram your toes into the pointed toe of a high heel it can continue to cause realignment of the big toe. This can get very painful and make your bunion worse which often leads to needing treatment like bunion surgery.


Because bunions are a bone deformity they aren’t able to heal themselves. There are treatment options to help relieve the pain caused by a bunion, such as custom orthotic devices, wearing protective padding or footwear designed to accommodate the bunion, but the only treatment that can get rid of the bunion completely is bunion surgery.


Adler Footcare specializes in minimally invasive bunion surgery, which corrects the position of the big toe joint by making a small incision in the foot. It’s performed in a way that causes little to no trauma to the patient, has minimal scarring, no need for general anesthesia and results in a timely return to normal activity.


In addition to ankle injuries, hammertoes and bunions, wearing high heels can cause other issues for you. Check out the infographic below:

Unlike Carrie Bradshaw’s character on the hit TV show “Sex and the City,” high heel shoes do noeasily allow you to chase down taxis, men, and walk the streets of New York with your best friends in your six-inch stilettos. However, according to a survey conducted by the American Podiatric Medical Association, 42% of women admitted they’d wear a shoe they liked even if it gave them discomfort.


We know that you’re going to wear high heels, and that’s okay. We just recommend not wearing them all of the time and paying attention to how they are making your feet feel so you can avoid ankle issues, hammertoes and bunion surgery causes by high heel shoes.


If you’d like to discuss your foot problems with a New York podiatrist at Adler Footcare, click here to schedule a free consultation. We believe feet shouldn’t hurt and neither should their treatment.


Related Articles: 

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Athletes Should Take a Time Out for Bunion Surgery

Before Worrying About Bunion Surgery Take a Step in Different Shoes

What is a Bunion and What Are My Bunion Treatment Options?

Treat your Bothersome Bunion with Bunion Surgery


Topics: Bunion Surgery