At Northwest Extremity Specialists, our podiatrists know that women wear many hats—and many different kinds of shoes. It used to be commonly accepted among foot doctors that all female foot problems were caused by wearing high heels. While it’s still true that narrow, high-heeled shoes can cause plenty of damage, we know that they are not the only cause of painful heel, arch, toe, and ankle conditions in women. Our female patients are athletes, teachers, doctors, cashiers, and busy moms who depend on strong, healthy feet to get them through the day. We accommodate their busy schedules and offer a range of treatments—from conservative to cutting-edge—to make sure they can stay on their feet.
Common Foot Problems Affecting Women
How different can men’s and women’s feet be? After all, they look pretty much the same! The reason women experience foot problems at a higher rate than men is not so much because of the structure of their feet as it is because of the activities they do, the shoes they wear, and other factors such as hormones and hip structure. In general, more women than men have the following problems:
- “Weak” ankles. Female athletes and fitness buffs are at a higher risk of ankle injury than men because they have more flexible ligaments, and their wider hip structure puts more stress on the ankle joint during high-impact activities. Women’s and girls’ ankles are not actually weaker than men’s, but they are more prone to rolling their ankles and suffering sprains and ligament tears. Our team offers a range of treatments for ankle injuries.
- Bunions. These toe deformities can be caused by high-heeled shoes with narrow toe boxes, but they can also occur in women who never wear high heels. Genetics plays a big part in who develops bunions, but certainly, once you have one, it is harder to wear dressy shoes. Early intervention is key to successful bunion treatment, so the sooner you get the bump on your foot evaluated, the more likely it is that we can fix it.
- Morton’s neuroma. When the nerve in the ball of your foot becomes inflamed, walking in any type of shoe can be painful. Pointy-toed shoes can make the problem worse, but the condition is usually caused by the structure of your foot. Custom orthotics and cortisone injections can provide relief.
- Plantar fasciitis. When the band of tissue connecting your heel bone to the base of your toes becomes stretched or torn, you will experience pain in the heel, particularly when first getting up in the morning. Women frequently suffer from plantar fasciitis because they spend a lot of time on their feet and might be wearing shoes that don’t support their arches, such as ballet flats or heels. Treatment for this condition includes stretching, rest, orthotics, and physical therapy.
- Stress fractures. Active women are more susceptible to stress fractures if they have a calcium deficiency, which many women do. Overworking the bones in the feet and ankles through exercise, standing all day, or wearing very high heels could result in a stress fracture. You might have to modify your activities and wear a brace or boot to allow the fracture to heal.
Ultimately, it doesn’t matter what caused your foot problem; you just want fast, effective treatment so you can get back to doing what you need to do. At Northwest Extremity Specialists, that is our goal, too.
Find the Right Shoes for Every Occasion
How many men do you know who don’t own more than two pairs of shoes? They have one pair for dressing up and another pair for pretty much everything else. Women, on the other hand, tend to own a wider variety of shoes to match various occasions. They might have a few different styles for work, a pair for the gym, and options for dressing up a little and dressing up a lot. In general, it’s harder for women to find a pair of shoes that are comfortable, supportive, and suitable for a range of activities. We help our patients narrow down their options and, when it’s appropriate, fit them with a custom orthotic that can make several pairs of shoes more foot-friendly.
Discuss Your Options With Our Team
The number-one reason we hear from women with foot problems for delaying treatment is that they don’t have the time. At Northwest Extremity Specialists, we will work with your schedule to evaluate your condition and recommend a treatment plan that gets you back on your feet as soon as possible. Call us today at 503-245-2420 to make an appointment in the Portland-area office closest to you.