Wearing Heels Could Be Worse than Living with Arthritis


Osteoarthritis (OA) is a degenerative, non-inflammatory joint condition.  It is mainly characterized by the destruction of the articular cartilage of the joint and thus forming a new bone at the joint surface and the margins known as osteophytes. OA can affect any joint of the body.

Wearing Heels

What are the Causes of OA?

  1. Age: Usually, people above the age of 40 years are prone to arthritis.
  2. Obesity: It causes an increase in the joint pressure causing arthritis.
  3. Occupation: Prolonged sitting or standing, regular hammering makes joints prone to arthritis.
  4. Hereditary: OA may be hereditary.
  5. Joint Injuries: Joint become weak and prone to arthritis especially if it has suffered an injury previously.
  6. Poor Footwear: Regular wearing heels creates pressure on the knees, heels and toe, causing arthritis.

How High Heels Cause Joint Pain?

High-heeled shoes alter the body posture and the walking pattern. It affects various muscle groups of the body. This increases the pressure on the knees, hip, foot, and ankle joint. Change in the walking pattern causes undue usage of the muscle causing pressure on the joint.

How High Heels Affect the Biomechanics of the Body?

Wearing heels causes the forward bending of the spine and hips. The lower back is pushed forward and hips are protruded backward, which ends up altering the balance of the body. To compensate the balance, the calf, hip and back muscles become tight. This causes muscles to become fatigue and strain and causes calf muscle cramps.

Why Wearing Heels is Worse than Living with Arthritis?

1. Spine:

Wearing heels regularly can cause lower back pain. Heels cause flattening of the lower spine. This causes a decrease in the curvature of the spine leading to the overuse of the back muscles. This causes pain and inflammation. Lower curvature is affected causing the mid spine to compensate. This causes pressure on the muscles, especially of the shoulder blades. This, in turn, causes round shoulders and neck protruding forward. This affects the neck causing pain, muscle tightness, headache, feeling of nausea and vertigo.

Medical conditions associated with high heels on the spine:

  • Spondylolisthesis: This is forward slipping of the vertebra over other vertebra.
  • Lumbar Canal Stenosis: There is a decrease in the vertebral space. This is mainly due to weak muscles cause by wearing regular heels. This causes disc bulge. This can compress the spinal cord causing pain, numbness, and tingling in the legs.
  • Upper Cross Syndrome: There is rounded shoulders and forward neck. This causes pectoral muscles to get tight and weakening of the upper back muscles.
  • Compensatory Posture Problems: The cervical spine is affected due to the compensatory posture problems. There are increased chances of the disc bulge leading to pain in neck and nerve compression causing tingling, numbness, and pain in the hands.

2. Heels:

The high heels cause pressure on the calf muscles. This causes tenderness in the calf and tightness. This may lead to the tightness of the plantar fascia of the foot.

The medical condition associated with high heels on the heels:

  • Plantar Fascitis: There is pain in the heels. The patient is unable to keep the first step in the morning.
  • Calcaneal Spur: There is bony outgrowth due to regular heels and tightly fitted shoes. This causes pain in the heels as well as in Tendo Achilles.
  • Bursitis: Pain, and inflammation of the bursa located in between the tendoachilles and bone.

3. Ankle:

Ankle is prone to injuries by wearing regular heels. Chances of ankle twist increases due to improper balance. The joint becomes weak and pains.

The medical condition associated with high heels on the ankle:

  • Ankle Sprain:  potholes, bumps, and pebbles may disturb the balance while walking with heels. This increases the tendency to slip and injure your ankle and back. This can cause ankle sprain. High heels weaken the ankle ligament and thus making prone for ankle sprain.

4. Toe:

Heels causes pressure on the ball of the toe causing pain.

The medical condition associated with high heels on the toe:

  • Hammer Toe: It causes the toe to bend downwards. It can affect any toe of the foot.
  • Metatarsalgia: High heel causes direct pressure on the ball of the foot.

5. Knee Joint:

High heel causes excessive pressure on the knee joint. It causes hyperextension of the knee joint. This strains the knee ligaments. Thus, knee joint becomes prone to injury.

The medical condition associated with high heels on the knees:

  • Early Knee Arthritis: There are more chances of the early knee arthritis due to the regular strain on the muscles.
  • Ligament Injury: Chances of ligament injury increases.


1. Can high heels cause early arthritis?

High heels put extra pressure on the joints causing early wearing and tearing of the joint. This predisposes the joints for arthritis.

2. How frequent one should wear heels?

Try to put on heels only on the occasions when you are protected from the harmful effects of the heels.


Wearing heels is worse than living with arthritis. Arthritis causes pain and inflammation in the joints. It can affect any joint of the body. Wearing heels affect the posture of the body. This causes muscle weakening. Certain areas like spine, hip joint, knee joint, ankle, and foot get typically affected. Various problems like canal stenosis, hammer toe, plantar fascitis, metatarsalgia, neck pain, low back pain, and bursitis. This causes more pain than arthritis. Thus, one should avoid wearing regular heels.

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