Women's Shoes Worse than a Pain—They're a Health Risk
Women's feet are killing them-and tight shoes are to blame, PAMF podiatrist Amol Saxena warns, citing a 1996 national study.
American women are at a significantly greater risk for foot surgery than men, almost entirely because they wear shoes that are too narrow, he said.
Foot problems that cause people to avoid exercise can actually be life-threatening, PAMF geriatrician Walter Bortz said. "Mobility is vital. In older people the most important organ is not the liver or kidney—the most important organ is their legs.
Their quality of life depends on movement. Movement is survival."
"If patients' feet are hurting, they don't want to exercise," Saxena added. "They gain weight, they exercise even less, they're in constant pain—and they're more prone to diabetes and heart disease as they get older. Those are the things we battle in older age, and they are serious."
Saxena said the study in the Western Journal of Medicine reported that 87% of forefoot surgeries in the United States in 1995 were performed on women. It said that while women's feet are 3 1/4 to 4 inches wide women's shoes are rarely made wider than 3 inches.
"Shoe companies didn't even make a shoe size larger than 10 until recently," Saxena said. "Young women come into the office and want surgery—and the treatment often is just treating the shoes.
"Not exercising is really life-threatening," he said. "If people aren't exercising because of foot pain, that's a dangerous health risk."
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