Although men and women can have foot and ankle problems, women are more likely to experience certain ones. Bunions, flat feet, high arches, plantar fasciitis, and Morton’s neuroma are common foot problems for women. High-heeled shoes are just one reason.
In this article, we’ll cover these conditions and their treatment options, in addition to where you can go for a personalized treatment plan!
A bunion typically forms when prolonged pressure on the big toe pushes it toward the second toe. Over time, an extra bone forms at the base of the big toe, and this can be painful.
While bunions are primarily hereditary, they can also be caused by wearing shoes that crowd the toes, such as shoes with a tight toe box or high heels. This is why women are more likely to have bunions than men. Another contributing factor is arthritis.
Bunion surgery is available, but if your bunions only hurt when wearing pointy-toed, high-heeled shoes, then surgery is not the best option. Instead, you can:
- invest in shoes with a wide toe box and soft soles,
- put on over-the-counter bunion pads as needed,
- take pain relievers,
- use custom orthotics,
- and wear night splints.
Flat Feet or High Arches
Women are more prone to developing flat feet or high arches. It could be due to genetics, pregnancy, or shoe type.
During pregnancy, the body produces more relaxin, a hormone that helps the body relax. This also loosens the tendons and ligaments in the feet, which can lead to flat feet.
Plus, many women wear high heels or narrow-toed shoes. These shoes put pressure on the feet and can cause flat feet or high arches to develop.
Flat feet and high arches are often painless and do not require surgical measures. To alleviate any discomfort, you can:
- stretch daily,
- use custom orthotics,
- and wear supportive footwear.
Plantar fasciitis is an inflammation of the plantar fascia, a band of tissue that extends from the heel to the toes. In this condition, the fascia first becomes irritated and then inflamed, resulting in heel pain.
This can be caused by the foot structure, the type of shoes, the walking surface, and if an increase in activity level, like if you started a running program. As such, it’s best to avoid going barefoot or wearing high heels, ballet flats, or flip-flops.
If you take the proper steps, this condition can go away on its own, but it could take more than a year’s time. Treatment may include:
- applying ice,
- changing to a low-impact sport like swimming or cycling,
- stretching with at-home exercises,
- switching to shoes with arch support,
- trying orthotics to cushion the heel,
- and wearing night splints.
A neuroma is a painful thickening of nerve tissue. The most common one in the foot is Morton’s neuroma, which occurs in the ball of the foot between the third and fourth toe. You may feel tingling, numbness, and like you’re standing on a pebble that’s in your shoe.
High heels and shoes with a tapered toe box abnormally put pressure on the toes, which is why women are more prone to having Morton’s neuroma. Other potential causes are activities that involve repetitive irritation in the ball of the foot, like basketball, tennis, volleyball, and other court sports.
Initial treatment involves:
- adding support with custom orthotics,
- placing an ice pack on the affected area,
- stopping activities that put repetitive pressure on the neuroma,
- taking anti-inflammatory medication,
- and wearing shoes with a wide toe-box.
Surgery to remove the damaged nerve may be recommended if symptoms do not improve or if they come back after non-surgical treatment.
Visit Trusted Podiatrists for Non-Surgical and Surgical Needs
For a personalized treatment plan and help managing pain, visit The Foot & Ankle Center! Since 1989, we have been proud to deliver the highest quality of care to patients in a comfortable and convenient setting.
Our certified podiatrists specialize in a wide range of foot and ankle ailments. We offer advanced non-surgical options, like custom orthotics, and corrective surgery so you can get back to living a full and healthy life.
To learn more and get started, request an appointment or call us at (314) 487-9300 today!