New study finds that women wearing high heels and sandals are more likely to develop arthritis

LAS VEGAS — A new study by the U.S. National Geographic Society has found that women who wear high heels, sandals and sandal-wearing shoes are more at risk of developing arthritis in their feet.

The study found that while women with a high heel shoe size had a higher risk of arthritis than women who wore sandals, the association was not statistically significant.

Researchers from the University of California, Irvine and Harvard Medical School analyzed data from more than 13,000 women over the age of 40 who had arthritis diagnosed between 1997 and 2003.

The researchers found that those with high heels were more likely than those with sandals to have arthritis in the heels and toes of the toes and feet.

“Our findings suggest that wearing high heel shoes and sandaled feet may increase the risk of joint instability, which can lead to pain and swelling in the feet and joints, leading to joint or tendon injuries,” said lead author Lora L. D’Amico, PhD, a professor of integrative biology at UC Irvine and a member of the National Geographic Emerging Leaders team.

“We recommend wearing high-heeled sandals as part of your daily wear.

If you’re not sure whether a pair of high heels is right for you, ask a health care provider about recommendations for high heel sandals or high heels.”

D’Amicos team found that sandals had the greatest effect on the risk for arthritis in women.

They also found that men had a slightly greater risk of osteoarthritis in the lower limbs, but they did not find a statistically significant association between sandals wearing and arthritis. 

“This study highlights the importance of wearing sandals when you wear high heel, high sandal shoes,” said Dr. Daniel K. Ewing, a research associate at the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases.

“It may be possible to reduce your risk of a chronic disease or to even reduce the development of osteomyelitis by wearing sandal or high-soled shoes.”

The research, “High-Heeled Shoes and Sandals: A Case-Control Study,” was published online in the journal Arthritis & Rheumatism. 

Researchers analyzed data on 6,092 women who were followed up for at least three years and were examined for arthritis at three points in their lives: the onset of arthritis at age 60; at age 70; and at age 80.

The authors determined the association between shoe size and arthritis risk using Cox proportional hazards models, which are widely used in epidemiology. 

D’Amore said that sandal wear may affect the way people walk.

“Women who wear sandals have a lower risk of foot injury compared with women who do not wear sandal,” she said.

“However, the effect of sandal use on the incidence of foot fracture may vary depending on the type of sandals worn. 

Women who wore high heels have a slightly higher risk than those who did not wear high-hopped sandals.”

Sandals are worn in different styles, including high heel and sanded shoes. 

People can be encouraged to wear sandaled shoes, D’Alesso said. 

However, they should be cautious when wearing high, high-cut sandals. 

If you have osteoarthropathy or osteoedema, consult a health professional to discuss your risk and use the recommendations from your health care providers. 

SOURCE: National Geographic magazine (www.ngmag.com)