Wearing high-healed shoe causes bunions: Malawi women warned

A medical expert has warned  Malawian women against the fashion of wearing high heels – especially if they are tight around the toes –  as it poses a risk of having their big foot toe deforming, a condition known as hallux valgus or bunion deformity.

A bunion is essentially a lump on the joint at the base of your big toe (the metatarsolphalangeal joint). They can be incredibly sore and painful, and it can be difficult to move the affected toe.

Dr Jim Turner an orthopedic surgeon at Beit Cure hospital  in Blantyre told Nyasa Times that despite that women like wearing very high heels, the habit often costs them dislocations of the ankles due to losing balance as the shape of the shoe is impractical to the way a foot was meant to work.

“I have had to operate on women who have messed their ankles due to losing balance while wearing very high heels and it’s such an unnecessary trauma that women can easily avoid by not wearing the very high heels.” explained Turner.

High heels can cause medical problems
High heels can cause medical problems

Turner added that, when bunion gets to be irritating or painful shoe wearing is uncomfortable, surgery may be recommended.

“There are many different surgical procedures that can be performed. The decision to perform one type of surgery or another is based upon the extent and magnitude of the bunion deformity” the medical expert pointed out.

However, walking the cities of Malawi seeing a woman in a very high heeled shoe such as 6 inches high is a common sight as women regard such shoes as fashionable and a mark of status.

High-heeled shoes are known to shorten calf muscles, cause pain, and even trigger migraines.

The medical expert advises that high-heel wearers try, if possible, to steer clear of towering heights when selecting shoes.

Bunions can be corrected surgically, but there are also conservative treatments available, such as shoe inserts (orthotics), which can help the feet to function normally.

Painkillers, anti-inflammatory medicines and cold packs can also assist with the symptoms of bunions.

But women who love high heels and would like to make the fashion easier on their feet generally, are being tipped to opt for heels maybe ” save high heels for certain occasions, rather than wearing them every day!, or “try to remove the heels whenever possible, such as when you’re sitting at your desk.” And that they can consider to “alternate heel heights on different days, to vary the pressure being placed on your muscles and joints.”

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