GREENWICH, Conn. -- Trendy high heeled boots may be the height of winter fashion, but they are a disaster waiting to happen for women wearing them, according to the foot and ankle specialists at Orthopaedic & Neurosurgery Specialists.
“Any high heel worn with regularity can damage the structure of the foot and weaken the ankle," said Dr. Sean Peden, a foot and ankle orthopedic surgeon at ONS. "High heeled boots do the same kind of damage and they don’t provide adequate stability on snowy and icy surfaces.”
Slips and falls from high heeled boots account for hundreds of injuries each year, including sprained and broken ankles, toes and metatarsal bones. Elsewhere in the body, falls from these boots commonly result in broken wrists as well as strains in the leg, back and neck muscles.
Even on dry surfaces, the negative side-effects of wearing high heels are well known.
Beyond pinched toes, blisters and aching arches, wearing heels over a prolonged period of time can damage muscles, tendons and nerves in the feet. Wearing heels can also play a role in the development and worsening of bunions, wreak havoc on balance and posture and weaken calf and ankle strength.
Foul winter weather makes wearing heels all the more precarious, warned Peden. “All it takes is one misstep to end up with a serious injury, lost time from work and possibly even surgery,” he said.
If a slip and fall does occur, it's important to immediately use the RICE method – rest, ice, compression and elevation – to help reduce the pain and swelling. Even if walking is possible, seek a medical evaluation if there is swelling and bruising. Left untreated, injuries can result in long term complications such as chronic ankle instability, pain, arthritis and deformity.
A safer bet, however, is to opt for more appropriate foul weather boots with a wide, low heel and a treaded heel and sole. They may not be the most fashionable accessory, but then again, neither are a cast and crutches.
ONS has offices in Greenwich and Stamford, Conn. and Harrison, N.Y.
To learn more about the services available at ONS, click here.