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High Heels may lead to Knee Osteoarthritis

THE PRICE for being fashionable may cost you a whole lot more than you think: a new study from the Iowa State University revealed that prolonged wearing of high heeled-shoes may cause joint degeneration and knee osteoarthritis.

The study author, Danielle Barkema, tested three heel heights (flats, two inches and 3.5 inches) and their corresponding effects on lower extremity joints among 15 test subjects. Using a variety of accelerometers, force platform and sensors, the study found that as the heels got higher, so does the increase in the compression within the knee. “This means that prolonged wearing and walking in heels could, over time, contribute to joint degeneration and knee osteoarthritis,” Barkema said. Flats seemed to diminish the impact on the joint, while the peak impact was found to be caused by two-inch heels. Apart from lower extremity problems, the high-heels also alter the body posture in a way that causes strain on the ankle, knee, hips and trunk.

“Obviously with research like this, you can’t say with any certainty that if you wear high heels regularly you will develop osteoarthritis,” Barkema said. “However, based on this information, wearing high heels puts individuals at greater risk for developing osteoarthritis. And it seems to be that the higher the heel height, the greater the risk.”

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