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Are You Choosing Fashion Over Foot Health?

High heels and narrow-toed shoes can cause permanent damage.
The perfect pumps. Stylish sling backs. Sexy stilettos. Most of us have a favorite pair of shoes, but we could be wearing them at a very high price. High heels and narrow-toed shoes can cause serious injuries to your feet — everything from calluses, corns and bunions to structural deformities like hammertoe and misshaped toenails. In severe cases, surgery may be required to repair the damage.

While giving up high heels and other uncomfortable shoes is the best way to prevent problems, many of us still choose fashion over function. “Many women just don’t want to hear that they can’t wear high heels anymore,” said Zeeshan Husain, D.P.M., podiatry specialist with DMC Women’s Health Services. “That’s why I often encourage women to simply limit their time wearing heels and other shoes with a narrow toe.”

Here are a few of Dr. Husain’s tips for fashionable footwear:

  • Pick your fashion venues wisely. Go ahead and wear those stylish pumps to the big presentation or your cousin’s wedding, but do you really need to wear them to the grocery store?
  • Bring along an extra pair of shoes. Switch in and out of your heels as appropriate. Keep an extra pair of comfortable shoes in your car. Another pair in your office. It’s much better to spend 2 to 4 hours a day in high heels than 8 to 10 hours.
  • Find fashionable alternatives. Shoe designers now offer many shoes that strike a remarkable balance between fashion and function. From pumps and peep toes to kitten heels and loafers, many stylish shoes are now designed with women’s comfort and health in mind.*
Get the right fit. Shop for shoes in the afternoon, after your feet have had time to swell from the day’s activities. Buying shoes when your feet are at their largest will help ensure the best fit.*

Treatment Options
While choosing the right foot gear can help relieve pain and prevent foot damage, the podiatric surgeons at DMC Women’s Health Services often see patients after foot problems have already developed.
“Painful conditions of the foot can be treated. They don’t have to be tolerated,” Dr. Husain said. A wide variety of painful conditions can be treated by Dr. Husain and his colleagues, including:

  • Bunions
  • Hammertoes
  • Ingrown nails
  • Heel pain
  • Heel spurs
  • Corns
  • Calluses
  • Warts
  • Fungus nails
  • Skin problems
  • Sprains
    • Fractures
    • Ankle injuries and dislocations
    • Ankle and foot deformities

    Many foot problems can be treated in the doctor’s office without surgery. Non-surgical treatment options may include wearing proper shoe gear, toe spacers, toe splints, bunion pads, exercises and padding. But sometimes surgical procedures may be recommended to repair hammertoes and ankle and foot deformities.
    “Many women have corns and calluses on their feet and they usually think the corn is the problem,” Dr. Husain said. “But I tell them the corn is just a symptom. The callus on the bottom of the foot is a symptom. The real problem is usually a structural deformity of the foot or the lack of motion you have at the joint.”
    You can maintain the callus or corn, but it’s usually going to come back if the foot deformity that is causing it is not addressed — which is a good reason to visit the podiatric surgery specialists at the DMC Women Health Services.

    *Source: American Podiatric Medical Association


    Tips on Fashionable Footwear*

    • 50 percent of Americans have experienced foot pain or discomfort at some point. Improper footwear is often a chief cause of this pain.


    • A heel that is three inches high creates seven times more foot stress than a one-inch heel.
    • Pumps are a timeless favorite for women. But be aware if pumps are too pointy, the pressure placed on toes over time can contribute to unsightly bony prominences called hammertoes or bumps at the base of the big toe called bunions. When choosing pumps, search for deep toe boxes, which give more wiggle room.
    • Ballet slippers may make you feel light on your feet, but in reality, their flat nature can be punishing on your arches and heels. Thin soles provide inadequate cushioning and support, and can result in heel and arch pain. Never choose a pair that can bend in half and don’t wear for long periods of time.
    • Sling backs are often a good choice in foot gear, but be sure to find a pair with a lower heel so they can be worn from day to night. Make sure the straps aren’t too tight, as that could lead to chafing on the back of the heel, and conversely, make sure they aren’t too loose, so that straps are not constantly being pulled up.
    • Kitten heels not only give extra height but are also a great alternative to reducing pressure on the ball of the foot often caused by a higher heel. Because a kitten heel is typically not higher than one inch and is also a bit wider than the average heel, it offers more comfort and stability.
    • Chunky heels are fashion’s hottest new footwear trend and they tend to offer much more stability than skinny heels.
    • Flip flops may seem comfortable at first, but they can cause a variety of foot problems. Select a pair that has some support and is unable to bend in half to minimize foot pain. Blisters are typically caused by poor-fitting straps, so choose a style made of natural materials, such as soft leather, and make sure the foot doesn’t hang off the edge. Heel pain sufferers should pass on flip-flops.
    • Platforms and wedges are popular, especially among the younger crowd. But be careful up there because these shoes can be unsteady, causing instability and problems with balance. Also, excessive height can lead to ankle rolls and falls. Try lower platforms and wedges with secure ankle straps, cork material bottoms for shock absorption and traction for slippery conditions.
    • Stylish loafers are just right for pounding the pavement or relaxing with friends. The perfect loafer should not be too flexible or too stiff. The shoe should bend at the ball of the foot, but shouldn’t fold in half. Look for a shoe with a toe box that is both round and deep with a firm heel counter.
      • *Source: American Podiatric Medical Association




      Zeeshan Husain, D.P.M., FACS

      Dr. Husain is Board Certified by the American Board of Podiatric Surgery and a fellow of the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons.  In addition, he serves as Assistant Residency Director for the Podiatric Surgical Residency Program at the Detroit Medical Center, treasurer for the Southeast Division of the Michigan Podiatric Medical Association, and coordinator for the Michigan Podiatric Residency Consortium, which integrates all twelve podiatric residency programs in the metro-Detroit area.
      In 1990, Dr. Husain graduated from the Scholl College of Podiatric Medicine (Chicago, IL) and then completed a three-year surgical residency program at the Oakwood Healthcare System (Wayne, MI) in 2003.  He has also completed advanced external fixation training in Verona, Italy.

      Dr. Husain’s areas of interest include foot and ankle reconstruction, trauma, diabetic foot care, and sports medicine.  In addition to these interests, Dr. Husain has received awards for numerous publications and presentations in these areas.  He routinely speaks at the national American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeon and Michigan Podiatric Medical Association Conferences.

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