by Dr. Michael Baranov, PT, November 30, 2015
The Number of High Heel Problems is Surprising
Little population-based research exists on subject Approximately 62% of American adult females regularly wear shoes with a heel of two inches or greater. The dangers of these shoes has long been pointed out, as studies have shown that they can cause strain and discomfort to the lower extremities, reduce ankle muscle movement, step length, total range of movement and balance control. Surprisingly, little population-based research has investigated the epidemiology of high heel-related injuries in the U.S., which spurred researchers to conduct a study on this subject among all age groups of women in the country.
Data from more than 100 emergency departments used The Consumer Product Safety
Commission’s National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS), a stratified probability sample of more than 100 hospital emergency departments, was used for data collection. The NEISS includes information extracted from medical records such as patient demographics and injury data, and it was searched for any pertinent information on high-heeled shoe injuries from 2002-2012.
Strains and sprains to ankle and foot are most common injuries
A total of 3,294 injuries, representing an estimated 123,355 high heel-related injuries, were treated in emergency rooms over 11 years. The overall rate of injury was 7.32 per 100,000 females, which was an increase of approximately 82% during the timespan, and the total number of injuries nearly doubled in 2012 when compared to 2002. Young adult females between the ages of 20-29 had the highest injury rate, followed by those between the ages of 30-39, and the rate generally increased over time for them. When stratified for race, white females accounted for the largest total of injuries, and more than 72% of injuries occurred to either the ankle or foot, with 52% of these being strains or sprains.
Finally, the home was the location with the highest injury rate at 50%, with public property second at 33%. This powerful study further corroborates what most medical professionals already know: high heels are dangerous, and wearing them regularly increases the risk of injury.
More focused efforts need to be made to educate women on these dangers and encourage them to be mindful of their high heel usage, minimizing the time that they are worn and avoiding extremely high heels and those that don’t fit properly.
-As reported in the July/August ’15 issue of The Journal of Foot & Ankle Surgery