Although individuals of all ages can suffer from various foot and ankle ailments, women are more likely to experience foot issues like high arches, flat feet, bunions, plantar fasciitis, and metatarsalgia due to genetics, lifestyle, hormones, and pregnancy. In this blog, we’ll cover these common foot issues in women and provide ways to help alleviate or prevent pain and discomfort.
High Arches & Flat Feet
Although everyone can experience flat feet or high arches, women have a higher chance of having flat feet or high arches due to several factors, including genetics, pregnancy, and shoe type. Because foot structure is primarily genetic, mothers with flat feet or high arches can pass their condition on to their children. Additionally, a pregnant woman's body produces hormones that can cause the ligaments in her feet to loosen, leading to flat feet, swelling, and other lower limb issues. Finally, many women wear high heels or narrow-toed shoes, which puts pressure on the feet and can lead to the development of flat feet or high arches. Read more about the harmful effects of high heels.
Flat feet and high arches are often painless and do not need surgical or other invasive measures. However, suppose pain is present, or discomfort persists. In that case, utilizing custom orthotics inserts, wearing supportive footwear, stretching daily, and maintaining a healthy diet are all excellent ways to help alleviate pain and discomfort due to high arches or flat feet.
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Women are more likely than men to develop bunions because women often wear tight or narrow-toed shoes that strain the toes and force the big toe to bend toward the other toes. Over time, this can cause the joint at the base of the big toe to enlarge and protrude outward, leading to a bunion. Although bunions are more common in women, they can affect anyone who wears tight or ill-fitting shoes that restrict the toes or redirect the normal position of the feet.
Despite genetics being the primary cause of bunions, there are preventative measures you can take to help reduce your chances of bunions. For example, avoid shoes that put significant pressure on the feet and footwear that compresses the big toe and pushes it toward the second toe. If you're experiencing a bunion, consider speaking with your podiatrist about proper footwear.
As one of the most common causes of heel pain, plantar fasciitis affects one in 10 individuals throughout their lifetime. Those with plantar fasciitis may experience stabbing, sharp pain under the bottom of the heel and an aching arch. Women who spend significant time standing or wearing high heels are more prone to this condition as the band of tissue in the sole can become inflamed or swollen when overstretched. Additionally, plantar fasciitis can worsen if your lower limbs cannot properly absorb the pressure from taking a step. Heels and other narrow-toed shoes do not properly distribute pressure while walking.
Selecting supportive shoes and taking breaks to sit if standing for long periods are good ways to help reduce the chances of plantar fasciitis. Because plantar fasciitis is an overuse injury, the discomfort typically worsens and becomes chronic the longer it goes untreated. That's why it's essential to meet with a podiatrist as soon as possible if you're experiencing pain or discomfort in your lower limbs.
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Metatarsalgia is a common foot ailment that results from inflammation in the ball of the foot. Women who wear high heels or tight shoes are more prone to this condition, as these narrow-toed shoes often cramp the toes and force pressure up front and on the balls of the feet, causing inflammation and pain.
The first option to resolve this should be to evaluate the type of footwear you wear. Choose footwear that helps remove extra pressure off of the ball of the foot. Opt for shoes with a wide, high toe box to allow the ball of the foot to spread out more and reduce stress on the area. For podiatrist-approved footwear options, visit The Right Shoe! If metatarsalgia persists, it’s time to get professional help from the doctors at Martin Foot and Ankle.
Don't avoid addressing lower limb pain or discomfort. At Martin Foot and Ankle, our team of experienced podiatrists can help treat your condition and have you back on your feet, living pain-free—call (717) 757-3537 to schedule your appointment.