/publications/issue/2003/2003-12/2003-12-7577

High Heels Are Acquitted of Causing Osteoarthritis

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    Women no longer have to worry that wearing high heels will increase their chances of developing osteoarthritis of the knee. That study finding was published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health (October 2003).

    About 2.4% of people over the age of 55 have osteoarthritis of the knee. By age 65, however, the condition is twice as common among women - a discrepancy that has led to much speculation about what different risk factors may be responsible. For the study, the researchers questioned 29 women between the ages of 50 and 70 who experienced knee pain and were on a waiting list for knee replacement surgery, as well as 82 women who had had no prior knee problems.

    The women were asked about their height and weight at different points in their life, previous injuries, occupational activities, and hormone use. They also were asked about their shoe history, including the age when they began wearing high heels, the height of the shoes, and how often they wore the shoes. All of the participants reported wearing heels at least 1 inch high at some point in their life. Only 7% said that they had never worn heels as high as 2 inches, and 36% said that they had never worn 3-inch heels. Why some people thought that high heels played a role in osteoarthritis is not entirely clear.