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Women: Stay a Step Ahead of 3 Common Foot Problems

woman in red high heels

Narrow-fitting shoes that squeeze the toes. High heels that stress ankles and arches. It’s not surprising women are more likely than men to develop certain kinds of foot problems.

Here's a look at the three most common conditions women experience and steps you can take to alleviate the pain and strain.


If you have a bony lump on the outer edge of your big toe, it is likely a bunion. Bunions are caused by misaligned big toe joints that swell and get tender.

Although pointy shoes make bunions more painful, bunions can actually be heredity and not caused by the shoes you wear.

What You Can Do:

  • Stay as comfortable as possible by wearing shoes made of stretchy material like leather that conforms to the shape of your foot.
  • When purchasing shoes, do so later in the day to address foot swelling that can occur. Also, hold the sole of the shoe against the sole of your foot. Make sure the toe area is as wide as your toes.
  • Custom insoles, which a podiatrist can provide, may prevent bunions from getting worse, but surgery is the only real cure. Surgery is normally recommended when the pain interferes with your normal activity.


Unlike bunions, too-narrow shoes that crowd your toes can contribute to hammertoes, a condition that causes toes to bend into a claw-like position. Other causes include arthritis, a high foot arch, toe injuries, and bunions.

While it can affect any toe, hammertoes most frequently occur on the second toe, resulting in irritation to the top of the bent toe. For people with diabetes or poor circulation, this can be a serious problem that requires medical attention.

What You Can Do:

  • Buy shoes and socks that don’t cramp your toes. This helps reduce pain and discomfort.
  • A Budin splint, or a pad with an elastic loop that goes under the ball of your foot and wraps around the hammertoe, can relieve pressure and friction from shoes.
  • If the condition gets worse, a podiatrist may suggest pain medication, or surgery for more lasting pain relief.

Heel Pain

Heel pain can have several sources. Heel spurs, or growths of bone on the back of the heel bone, occur when the Achilles tendon pulls at the spot where it attaches to the heel bone. Later, this area can calcify to form a spur.

Plantar fasciitis, an inflammation of the plantar fascia, a band of tissue that runs along the bottom of the foot, can cause a stabbing or burning pain in the heel. Often worse in the morning, plantar fasciitis is caused by a variety of foot injuries, exceptionally high or flat arches, standing or walking for long periods of time, or being overweight.

What You Can Do:

  • To help prevent bone spurs, properly warm up and wear appropriate athletic shoes when exercising.
  • Icing and foot exercises can help relieve the pain of plantar fasciitis. Over-the-counter arch supports, or custom orthotics that correct the foot position, can also be beneficial. Podiatrists have several new treatments available for people experiencing extreme pain.

And Finally, for the Healthiest Feet, Here are 3 Rules of Thumb All Women Should Remember:

  • Avoid shoes with pointed toes.
  • Don’t wear heels higher than 2”.
  • Heed pain: It’s a warning sign.

Schedule an appointment online now.

author name

Sean M. Walpole, DPM

Sean Walpole, DPM, is a podiatrist with Lancaster General Health Physicians Podiatry. Dr. Walpole is board certified in Foot Surgery and Reconstructive Rearfoot/Ankle Surgery. His areas of expertise include ankle arthroscopy, reconstructive foot and ankle surgery, and wound foot complications.

Education: University of Scranton and Temple University School of Podiatric Medicine; Residency–Penn-Presbyterian Medical Center; Fellowship–University of Dresden, Germany.

Schedule an Appointment Call: 610-857-6616

About LG Health Hub

The LG Health Hub features breaking medical news and straightforward advice to help individuals of all ages make healthy choices and reach their wellness goals. The blog puts articles by trusted Lancaster General Health clinical experts, good 'n healthy recipes, videos, patient stories, and health risk assessments at your fingertips.


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