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High-heeled shoes and musculoskeletal injuries: a narrative systematic review
  1. Maxwell S Barnish1,
  2. Jean Barnish2
  1. 1Independent Scholar, Aberdeen, UK
  2. 2Retired Health Visitor, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Maxwell S Barnish; maxwell.barnish{at}abdn.ac.uk

Abstract

Objectives To conduct the first systematic review from an epidemiological perspective regarding the association between high-heeled shoe wear and hallux valgus, musculoskeletal pain, osteoarthritis (OA) and both first-party and second-party injury in human participants without prior musculoskeletal conditions.

Setting A systematic review of international peer-reviewed scientific literature across seven major languages.

Data sources Searches were conducted on seven major bibliographic databases in July 2015 to initially identify all scholarly articles on high-heeled shoes. Supplementary manual searches were conducted. Titles, abstracts and full-text articles were sequentially screened to identify all articles assessing epidemiological evidence regarding the association between high-heeled shoe wear and hallux valgus, musculoskeletal pain, OA and both first-party and second-party injury in human participants without prior musculoskeletal conditions. Standardised data extraction and quality assessment (Threats to Validity tool) were conducted.

Primary and secondary outcome measures Musculoskeletal pain or OA as assessed by clinical diagnosis or clinical assessment tool. First-party or second-party injury.

Results 644 unique records were identified, 56 full-text articles were screened and 18 studies included in the review. Four studies assessed the relationship with hallux valgus and three found a significant association. Two studies assessed the association with OA and neither found a significant association. Five studies assessed the association with musculoskeletal pain and three found a significant association. Eight studies assessed first-party injury and seven found evidence of a significant injury toll associated with high-heeled shoes. One study provided data on second-party injury and the injury toll was low.

Conclusions High-heeled shoes were shown to be associated with hallux valgus, musculoskeletal pain and first-party injury. No conclusive evidence regarding OA and second-party injury was found. Societal and clinical relevance of these findings is discussed. Concern is expressed about the expectation to wear high-heeled shoes in some work and social situations and access by children.

  • ACCIDENT & EMERGENCY MEDICINE
  • EPIDEMIOLOGY
  • PUBLIC HEALTH

This is an Open Access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited and the use is non-commercial. See: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/

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