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Todd Schuetz(847) 384-4032 schuetz[email protected]

80 percent of women have foot pain New survey shows 85 percent of women changed shoewear habits due to foot problems

ROSEMONT, Ill.--Eighty percent of respondents to an online global women's shoe survey say their feet hurt, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, and, as a result of a reported shoe-related foot problem, 85 percent changed shoewear or wear the shoes less often.

The Academy, in conjunction with the American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society (AOFAS), conducted this 2001 online women's shoe survey about foot problems, high heels and uncomfortable shoes to determine the prevalence of women's foot pain. They released the results here today.

"A self-test included in the survey to gauge shoe fit found 40 percent of women's heels do not fit properly," announced Gail Dalton, MD, Atlanta orthopaedic foot and ankle surgeon. The survey also shows that the majority (59 percent) of women wear uncomfortable shoes daily for at least one hour.

Why do women wear uncomfortable shoes? "'Work' or 'style' is the reason given by 77 percent of women," Dr. Dalton said. "Wearing uncomfortable shoes remains prevalent throughout the world today, despite an increasing body of knowledge that improperly-fitting shoewear can lead to foot problems.

"While foot fatigue, arthritis, trauma and a person's general health can contribute to foot pain, a properly-fitting shoe may be one of the few things a person has within their control to improve overall foot health," said Dr. Dalton. "The study also shows that most women first experience foot-related problems at age 20-29 years."

Calluses (47 percent) and heel pain (45 percent) were the most commonly reported shoe-related conditions in the survey, said Dr. Dalton, chair of the AOFAS orthoses and footwear committee. Other reported conditions include bunions, hammertoes, neuromas, ingrown toenails and stress fractures.

"The survey suggests that among persons who say they wear uncomfortable shoes for more than one hour a day, it is wearing heels that may be a major cause of their discomfort," said Dr. Dalton, noting 74 percent wear heels.

The survey also found that 79 percent of respondents do not get their feet measured when shopping for shoes and 59 percent could not remember when they last did. "People's feet often widen and lengthen with age," said Dr. Dalton, "so having one's shoe size measured at frequent intervals throughout life is critical to maintaining proper shoe fit."

"Hopefully, by convincing women that high heels, pointed toes and poorly-fitting shoes can harm their foot health over a lifetime, we will start to see women demanding healthy shoes that are fitted properly," she said.

More than 43 million Americansone out of every six peoplehave problems with their feet, mostly from shoes that do not fit properly. Foot problems cost the U.S. $3.5 billion each year. The survey, which ran online from July 20, 2001, to August 21, 2001, generated 1,724 responses.

To help reduce the incidence of foot problems, the Academy has developed free tips and guidelines, part of its Prevent Injuries America!(r) national campaign. Log onto to download Academy fact sheets, brochures and booklets.

The 25,500-member Academy is a not-for-profit organization that provides education programs for orthopaedic surgeons, allied health professionals and the public.

An advocate for improved patient care, the Academy is participating in the Bone and Joint Decade, the global initiative in the years 2000-2010 to raise awareness of musculoskeletal health, stimulate research and improve people's quality of life.

The American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society's Foot Fitness for Life brochures, guidelines and exercises for healthy feet are available, free of charge, online at