Have you ever seen someone fall face-first to the ground because they didn’t know how to walk in those ridiculously high heels? Though it may incite a chuckle, falling in high heels is no laughing matter, as it can lead to broken bones and some serious foot pain. High heels are ever popular, and unfortunately so are injuries related to them. Especially when walking on uneven terrain, the higher and skinnier the heel, the more likely you are to fall.
Your feet were not designed to walk perpendicular to the ground, so your midfoot arch is particularly susceptible to injury when you are in a high heel. When excessive force is placed on the midfoot due to a trip or a fall in high heels, bones can potentially dislocate and even break. In many cases, a dislocated midfoot requires surgery to realign the anatomy while surgical screws are placed to maintain the position.
The high heel foot fracture is known as a Lisfranc’s fracture or dislocation to medical professionals. This name refers to the arched joints that the fracture or dislocation involves. The Lisfranc’s joint is an intricate interlocking of nine bones with robust ligamentous attachment. Unfortunately, the issue concerning the high heel foot fracture is two-fold: not only do patients underappreciate the severity of the injury by neglecting to seek out medical care, but the injury can go undetected by primary health care professionals.
Obvious and Not-so-Obvious Foot Pain
When it comes to foot fractures, injury can either be very obvious or go unnoticed. As a result, treatment will vary depending on the severity of the injury, but will typically involve casting or surgery in more severe cases.
It may seem like when one has a bad fall the foot pain would indicate a more serious injury in need of medical attention. However, most people tend to shrug off the foot pain and discomfort of an ankle sprain. There are ways to tell if your fall caused more serious damage than a bad sprain, such as bruising and swelling around the area, or if you possibly heard or felt a popping sensation in the midfoot when you had the misstep. Foot pain is tricky in that it can be instant or delayed—you may initially not feel much pain after your fall, but could be writhing in pain a few hours later.
How to Detect a High Heel Foot Injury
Though a quick X-ray can sometimes determine if there is a Lisfranc’s fracture, this method is not always accurate. To uncover smaller, serious fractures, your podiatrist may suggest a CAT scan. Surgery is typically advised for treatment when the injury causes the midfoot to become unstable and screws, wires, or plates may be used for surgical stabilization.
It’s important to note that the Lisfranc’s fracture can occur in any form of shoe when combined with a fall or trip—not just high heels. High heels do tend to be the cause of most falls where this type of injury is involved, but they’re still not the only culprit. If you’ve taken a nasty fall, don’t ignore any prolonged pain, swelling, or bruising in any region of the foot, and speak with your podiatrist for proper diagnosis.