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NYC women commit 'shoeacide'


Heel Photo Credit: Talia Herman

Hershelle Burton, pictured above, took a spill in her four-inch-tall gold “Dorothy” heels in October, spraining her ankle.

“I’m in high heel rehab,” sighed Burton, 42, a creative services professional who lives in Clinton Hill. As a result of her sprain, and a case of high heel-caused plantar fasciitis, she commutes to her job at BET in glittery Converse sneakers. “No more being cute on the bus or the train,” she lamented.

But plenty of women, to the detriment of their feet, still feel differently. Footwear so lofty that it all but requires clearance from an air traffic controller has resulted in an upswing of patients suffering a wide variety of tootsie troubles, physicians told amNewYork.

The average heel height of fashion shoes has surged from three to five inches in the past few years, with the tallest shoes typically boasting forefoot platforms, said Phyllis Rein, senior vice president of The Fashion Footwear Association of New York.

For women, who already represent 65 percent of podiatry patients, wearing such towering shoes is a clear case of “shoeacide,” explained Dr. Jacqueline Sutera, Manhattan podiatrist and podiatric surgeon.  

“You know it’s bad for you. You do it anyway. And you wind up with an injury.”

Most common are stress fractures of the toes or metatarsals from the high-impact pounding taken by a steeply declined forefoot.

Plantar fasciitis — an inflammation of tissues on the bottom of the foot   and neuromas, which are an inflammation of nerves in the forefoot, are also frequent.

Women can even suffer dreaded “avulsion fractures,” in which wrenched ligaments and tendons detach pieces of bone.

An avulsion fracture reqires surgery and wearing a cast with crutches or a “rocker boot” for six to eight weeks, said Dr. Hillary Brenner, a spokeswoman for the American Podiatric Medical Association. “Once they see how long it takes to recuperate, they learn their lesson a little bit,” Brenner said.

Or not. Selina Chavis, 52, sprained her ankle when a three-inch heel snapped off her Jimmy Choo boots.  She’s since back to rocking three-inch-tall heels.

Heels, explained the Harlem resident,  “make me look long and lean and sexy.”


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