Have you experienced pain wearing heels? It’s a pain unlike any other. That dull ache that stays with us. But many of us smile and pretend it doesn’t hurt; we ignore the pain until it hurts so much that we can’t ignore it anymore. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Pain wearing heels is for the birds
Many of us have suffered from pain wearing heels. Blisters. Bruises. Broken capillaries. Sometimes even bleeding toes. It hurts, and it can lead to some long-term foot problems if we don’t take proper care of our feet. I’ve had problems with my feet for years. Consequently, I limit my heel wearing to special occasions and major events. I’ve seen many podiatrists throughout the years, and I’ve finally found a doctor who understands my needs and my feet!
Please allow me to introduce you to Dr. Tony Avakian. Dr. Avakian practices podiatry in Santa Clarita, CA at his boutique practice, the Valencia Foot and Ankle Center. I’ve been his patient for several years now for various foot issues, and he’s been able to provide me with a great deal of relief.
Dr. Avakian has been practicing podiatry since 1999 and in Santa Clarita since 2003. He did his surgical residency at Cedars Sinai and the Olympic Hospital in Los Angeles. Moreover, he was also involved with The Crippled Children’s Project in Mexicali, Mexico, a non-profit treating children with various foot disorders at no charge. Dr. Avakian has won many awards including Best Podiatrist in SOCAL by Best of LA TV two years in a row. He is also the team physician for Valencia High School.
An Interview with Dr. Tony Avakian
Dr. Avakian has been kind enough to grant me an interview to help other women know how to deal with their pain wearing heels. Let’s get started.
So let’s talk about feet!
JQ: Dr. Avakian, thank you so much for the interview. How did you become interested in podiatry?
TA: I have always been highly active with sports, and back in college I slowly developed chronic heel pain. I went to see a General Practitioner who prescribed 800 mg of Ibuprofen and instructed me to stop all sports activities for a month. This ended up being a temporary fix, so I was then referred to an Orthopedist and a Neurologist and was basically told the same thing that my GP instructed. This was really frustrating for me as I loved to exercise.
My Mother in Law recommended that I go see her Podiatrist, and assured me that he could solve my issue. I followed her advice and after he taped my feet I felt instant relief! He informed me that Custom Orthotics would resolve my issue and I could resume all exercise activities. Well he was right, and as a Pre-Med student who was interested in Sports Medicine, I thought this would be a great field to have a career in!
Wearing beautiful shoes can really hurt, but it does have to. Check out these tips to reduce pain wearing highheels.
Do you have to give up wearing beautiful high heels to avoid foot pain?
JQ: Wow! It’s like it was meant to be! Because you have had issues yourself, you are able to empathize with what your patients are feeling. And boy can feet hurt! Personally, I have a lot of pain wearing heels. But I love to wear beautiful shoes. Many of them are not comfortable whatsoever, particularly heels. Can you tell us what to look for when selecting a heel so that we may get the best of both worlds? A beautiful shoe as well as one that is comfortable? Or at least more comfortable?
TA: I get this question a lot. For more height and less abuse to your feet I recommend Platforms. An Inclination angle above 2” dramatically adds more stress to the joints, tendons and ligaments on your feet.
JQ: Can you recommend types of heels to avoid?
TA: Try to avoid heels above 2”. If you’re going out for dinner and just walking from your car to the restaurant and back, then go ahead and wear what you want. Again I recommend platforms as an alternative.
JQ: Small doses! Everything in moderation right? However, it’s good to hear that we can still indulge if we are sensible about how long we will be wearing them. It reminds me of a line from The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, “You can stand anything for 10 seconds!”
Custom Orthotics help reduce your pain wearing heels
JQ: I wear heels rarely these days because they really do a number on my feet. I save them for special occasions. Furthermore, I have a pre-event ritual of wrapping my pinkie toes in bandages, adding some moleskin to the inside of the shoe to make them more comfy, and adding a cushion in the toe box of the shoe. Are there other things women can do to make wearing their shoes more comfortable?
TA: Yes Custom Molded Orthotics would be the best way to reduce stress on your feet.
JQ: Nothing like a custom fit, right? Are there custom orthotics that won’t show if you are wearing a beautiful strappy heel that exposes the foot?
There are custom orthotics designed for high heel dress shoes that are invisible to the public.
TA: There are specific orthotics that are designed for high-heeled dress shoes called Cobra Orthotics. And yes they are invisible to the public.
Strengthening Exercises and OTC Pain Relievers
JQ: I am going to have to check those out. I like that they can’t be seen. Most of all, prevention is critical. Are there exercises I can do at home to strengthen my legs so that my feet won’t hurt as much when I wear heels? To take the pressure off my feet?
TA: Actually balancing exercises can help to strengthen the legs and feet. For example, doing barefoot, single legged balancing exercises utilizing a Bosu Ball is an excellent way to do this.
JQ: That’s great. We have a Bosu Ball at home, so I need to add that to my routine. Can we also prevent and / or relieve our foot pain wearing heels and swelling with topical over-the-counter medications? Do the over the counter lidocaine creams and sprays work? It seems like I see these advertised all the time.
TA: Anti-inflammatory creams like Flexall 454 is a better way to go as far as topicals for pain relief. Of course NSAIDs like Aleve or Advil can help with foot pain.
After the Damage has been Done
JQ: Let’s talk about Aftercare. Many of us, myself included, have paid the price for wearing a beautiful heel too long and consequently ended up with sore feet, bruises, blisters and sometimes even bleeding. What is the best way to treat these at home? I’ve taken Advil, iced my feet, cleaned my blisters and bloody toes. Maybe there is more I can do that I might not know about?
TA: As you know Jennifer, topical pain creams, massage, and a home TENs unit can help soothe the feet also.
When to See the Doctor
JQ: At what point of experiencing foot pain from our heels do we need to make an appointment with you or a podiatrist in our area?
TA: If the pain persists or increases over a week I recommend seeing a Podiatrist as the problem has gone from acute to chronic.
If your foot pain persists over a week, see a podiatrist. It has gone from acute to chronic.
JQ: I’ve definitely experienced that shift from acute to chronic pain before. It seems like it’s usually when I’ve attended a lengthy event like the Cannes Film Festival. My friends and I call it “Cannes Feet.” It often takes a few weeks to have happy feet again after the festival. I’ve definitely had to call you for treatment for that.
If one of my readers needs to be be treated for foot pain caused by wearing heels, what can she expect from a visit with you? Do you recommend medication, physical therapy, or other treatments? What are the benefits of different types of treatments?
Conservative treatment options for foot pain
TA: As you know personally, Jennifer, I like to start with conservative care first which generally consists of Physical Therapy, oral or topical anti-inflammatories, stretching and strengthening exercises, home therapy (ice and heat), and in some cases Custom Molded Orthotics. Even though I’m a Surgeon, I try to exhaust all forms of conservative care before I recommend surgery.
JQ: I’ve certainly appreciated your conservative, “let’s start with the non-invasive options first” approach for my personal care. Often that’s all I’ve needed. Rather, I’m glad I haven’t needed anything more dramatic than the cortisone shots to relieve my pain. But I can imagine you see some really messed up, incredibly painful feet. What is the most extreme foot damage you have seen from a woman wearing heels?
TA: Severely arthritic Bunions, Hammertoes and ankles with fallen arches. This was to the point where the patients joints needed to be fused.
JQ: Ouch! That hurts just thinking about it. I lived in England with a woman who had bunion surgery while I was in residence. She was in a great deal of pain during her recovery, but once the relief set in, she was so much happier. My heart goes out to those in that kind of foot pain.
Thank you again, Dr. Avakian, for taking the time to share your expertise with the readers here at The Awesome Muse. We appreciate it very much? Do you have any last tips not related to wearing heels you would like to leave with us?
Never get a pedicure within 48 hours of shaving your legs & feet. You are more susceptible to infection.
A tip about pedicures
TA: Yes, educating your readers on the potential dangers with pedicures. One tip I can give your readers is never get a pedicure within 48 hours of shaving your legs and feet as you are more susceptible to getting an infection .
JQ: That’s a great tip, and it’s one I bet a lot of women don’t consider. Thanks so much Dr. Avakian! I look forward to exploring that topic in a future discussion. Thanks so much for talking to us today to help other women like me avoid pain wearing heels.
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Where to find Dr. Tony Avakian
Dr. Tony Avakian practices podiatry in Santa Clarita, CA at the Valencia Foot and Ankle Center. His practice is located at 27875 Smyth Ste 100, Valencia, CA 91355. You can visit them online at www.curefeet.com.