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High-Heeled Boots Can Be Dangerous

This winter’s fashionable high-heeled boots put women at risk for slips, falls and injuries on ice and snow, warn experts with the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons (ACFAS). These popular boots typically feature tall, spiked heels and narrow, pointed toes.

“Wearing high heels makes you more unstable when walking or standing on dry surfaces, let alone slippery ones like ice or snow,” says Kimberly Eickmeier, DPM, FACFAS, a spokeswoman for the surgeons group. “A stylish low-heeled winter boot is a lot more fashionable than a cast and crutches.”

Eickmeier also recommends that women scuff up the soles of new boots, or purchase adhesive rubber soles, to provide greater traction.

Falls from high-heeled winter boots can lead to a number of injuries, depending on how the woman loses her balance. If her ankles roll inward or outward, she can break her ankles. If her ankle twists, ligaments can be stretched or torn, causing an ankle sprain. According to ACFAS' consumer website, FootHealthFacts.org, broken and sprained ankles can be present at the same time.

“This time of year, I see a variety of broken bones occurring in patients who have slipped on the ice,” says Eickmeier. “These include broken toes, metatarsals, heels and ankles.”

Eickmeier urges women hurt from slips and falls in high-heeled winter boots to see a foot and ankle surgeon for prompt evaluation and treatment. In the meantime, immediately use the RICE method—rest, ice, compression and elevation—to help reduce swelling, pain and further injury.

“Delaying treatment can result in long-term complications, such as chronic ankle instability and pain, arthritis or deformity,” says Eickmeier. “Even if you’re able to walk on the injured foot, pain, swelling or bruising indicates a serious injury.”