New Delhi: Like the tall Lara Dutta or the shorter Rani Mukerji, you might want to flaunt stilettos to look glamorous and sleek. But experts feel this style statement can cause serious harm to the body if proper care is not taken.
"Increased pressure puts the forefoot at risk of injuries such as stress fractures, bunions and hammer toes. Knee pain is also common when high heels are involved," says Ashish Jain, MS (orthopaedics), consultant joint replacement specialist at Max Hospital.
"The heel height causes increased strain on the knee joint and associated tendons. The quadriceps muscle group in the front of the thigh works harder, increasing pressure on the kneecap by up to 26 percent."
"This can ultimately increase the incidence of osteoarthritis of the knee and quadriceps tendonitis," Jain added.
Jain also spoke of other hazards.
He revealed that when the heel is constantly elevated, the calf muscle and Achilles tendon can contract and shorten. Wearing high heels habitually can result in a woman not being able to tolerate a flat shoe. On occasions, this can even require surgery to lengthen the Achilles tendon.
Sometimes the tight fit of many heels will force the toes to conform to its shape. The pressure of the shoe itself can cause corns to form. Furthermore, the compression of the metatarsal bones can cause pressure on the nerves that run between them.
"The toenails are also at risk as the incidence of in-growing toenails and nail infections is higher in heel wearers. In-growing toenails can be very painful, unsightly and require surgery to correct," Jain added.
Women feel high heels like gladiator sandals, tip toes and others add a touch of elegance and glamour to one`s overall style and the legs appear longer and slimmer. Thus, to look special in that chic footwear and not experience painful after effects, many are going in for dermal fillers.
"It has been observed that women are undergoing filler injections to plump up the underside of their feet, thus filling them out and providing padding inside the foot to relieve the pain that comes from wearing high heels," said Satish Bhatia, dermatologist and skin surgeon, Lady Ratan Tata Medical and Research Centre.
"This trend is rising despite the fact that the effect does not usually last for more than six-seven months," Bhatia added.
Given that certain industries like hospitality, aviation and fashion place a premium on height and appearance, wearing heels becomes a norm, thus making women opt for the expensive solution to ease pain arising out of use of high heels.
"The dermal filler injection is injected in the ball of the foot to ease the pain caused by wearing high heels. The injection costs between Rs12,000 and Rs.15,000," he added.
Rajesh Malhotra, professor of orthopaedics, AIIMS, threw light on a few other ways of curing the pain arising out of extended use of stilettos.
"The best way to avoid pain is that one stops wearing high heels at all because they are the cause of the problem. But if that is not possible then there are a few treatments," he said.
"The entire body pressure is on the ball of the foot; so among many treatments one is that we put the metatarsal bar on the sole of the footwear so that the entire body weight is not on the ball of the foot, which results in less pain," Malhotra told.
If it is very essential to wear heels, the maximum height advised by doctors is not more than an inch.
"The height of the heel also changes the amount of weight on the forefoot. A one-inch heel will increase the pressure by 22 percent, a two-inch heel by 57 percent and a three-inch heel by 76 percent. So anything not more than an inch is fine," said Jain.