Wearing stilettos or pencil heels might be fashionable but it can have an adverse effect on health, especially bones, and may lead to major health hazards like degenerative arthritis -- also called osteoarthritis.
According to Uma Kumar, HOD, Rheumatology, All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), wearing high heels every day for long hours can lead to cumulative damage of bones and emerge as a leading cause for arthritis.
Osteoarthritis, one of the most common chronic and long-lasting joint condition, is caused by joint damage where the cartilage breaks down, causing the bones within the joint to rub together. This leads to pain, stiffness and other issues.
"Women, especially those who are below 40, are coming to AIIMS with such joint pain-related issues caused due to wearing of high heels. If ignored, these may lead to severe health problems which might need surgery to be cured," Uma Kumar told IANS.
High heels cause unequal weight distribution on the foot bones, exposing those areas of joints to bear weight which are normally not designed to do so. This results in painful foot conditions like bunions and meta-tarsalgias -- also known as fore-foot pain, she said.
"Wearing heels generates pressure on knees and toes and they start aching if heels are worn for too long. The calf muscle is also stressed continuously," she added.
Besides arthritis, wearing high heels also increases the risk for nerve pull, back pain, waist pain, and knee pain.
Early symptoms of osteoarthritis include pain in joints, early morning stiffness in feet for more than 30 minutes and swelling in feet and back.
"If one is keen on wearing a heel, it is advised to go for wedges or platform shoes. The problem arises with the height of the heel and the ideal height should be one and a half inches," Uma Kumar suggested.
She advised that heels should be avoided by teenage girls because it might affect their posture at an early age and develop chronic pains later.