Arthritis warning to women who wear high heels
Women who wear high heels or badly-fitting trainers could be putting themselves at risk of arthritis, experts are warning.
The Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists said the UK could be facing an "arthritis crisis" due to increasing levels of obesity and poor footwear.
The most common form of the condition, osteoarthritis, causes pain and stiffness in the joints and affects at least eight million people in the UK.
The condition is more common in women.
A poll of 2,000 people for the Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists found that a quarter of women wear high heels every day or "frequently".
But experts warned high heels can alter the body's posture and increase pressure on the foot, ankle and knee joints, increasing the risk of osteoarthritis.
Osteoarthritis is caused by stress to the cartilage and can result from injury or from general wear and tear on the joint.
The poll also found that 77% of both men and women do not wear shoes designed specifically for the sport they are doing.
This can cause injury and stress on the joints, increasing the risk of the debilitating condition.
Professor Anthony Redmond, a podiatrist and arthritis researcher from the society, said arthritis could occur at any age, not just as we get older.
He said there were some simple ways of helping to prevent it.
"Choosing the right footwear will help minimise the stress placed on the feet and joints during everyday activity and helps reduce the risk of injury and joint damage.
"For daily wear, the recommendation is to opt for a round-toed shoe with a heel height of no more than 2-3cm (one inch) and with a shock-absorbent sole to help minimise shock to the joints.
Professor Redmond warned that if people wear trainers while doing exercise trainers they should be designed specifically for the sport they are doing.
"Those who wear trainers that are not designed for sporting activity are placing themselves at real risk.
"With forces through the joints exceeding eight times the body weight during some sports, the importance of matching the right footwear to the activity cannot be overstated."
The survey also found that while 65% have suffered stiffness or pain in their lower body and feet, only half have sought help for their symptoms.
Experts say people should be on their guard because arthritis is on the rise, with 60% of cases in feet.
Professor Redmond said: "If you do experience frequent pain in your feet or ankles, don't ignore it, as something can always be done.
"Some forms of arthritis start first in the feet and early treatment is vital to achieving the best long-term outcome."