Foot pain is a common complaint in the U.S. adult population and foot and toe symptoms are among the top 20 reasons why elderly (aged 65-74 years of age) see their physician. Up until the age of 80 women are more likely than men to have foot pain; however, it is not known if this is due to a higher prevalence of foot deformities, underlying disease, shoe wear, or other lifestyle choices. Recent research from the Institute for Aging Research (Hebrew SeniorLife) has found a significant association between inappropriate footwear and hind foot pain in elderly women. As part of the study shoe types were classified as "poor" (high-heels, pumps, sandals and slippers), "average" (hard- or rubber-soled shoes and work boots), and "good" (athletic and casual sneakers). From the list of 11 shoe types, study participants were asked about the one style of shoe they currently wear on a regular basis, what they regularly wore during five age periods in the past, and if they experience pain, aching or stiffness in either foot on most days. More than 60 percent of women reported wearing "poor" shoes in the past, compared to only 2 percent of men (13 percent of women said they currently wear "poor" shoes). Nearly 30 percent of women and 20 percent of men reported generalized foot pain, which is in line with other foot-pain studies. After analysing foot-examination data from more than 3,300 men and women in The Framingham Study, researchers found past shoe wear among women was a key factor for hind-foot pain. Researchers found shoes types, specifically high-heels, pumps and sandals, may cause future hind-foot (heel and ankle) pain. Nearly 64 percent of women who reported hind-foot pain regularly wore these types of shoes at some point in their life. No significant link between foot pain and the types of shoes men wear was found.
Researchers concluded comfort, rather than style or fashion should determine shoe selection. In the absense of standard shoe sizing shoe comfort should be judged on foot fit and not just by the size marked on the box. Consumers are advised to have both feet measured when purchasing shoes and always fit shoes to the longest and broadest foot. Foot volume will change from morning to night with fluid retention and best to have the feet measured in the afternoon.
Dufour A.B, Broe K.E, Walker A.H, Kivell E, Nguyen U.D.T, Hannan M.T, Gagnon D.R, & Hillstrom H.J. Foot Pain: Is Current or Past Shoewear a Factor? Arthritis Care & Research, 2009; DOI: 10.1002/art.24733.