Barbie Doll Syndrome

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If the shoe doesn’t fit …

“I call it ‘Barbie Doll Syndrome’– a 6 foot tall woman just doesn’t wear size 4 shoes. It’s abnormal, but we all want to look like Barbie,” says fellowship trained orthopaedic foot surgeon Pam Davis, M.D., Midwest Foot and Ankle Specialists, Davenport. “The typical problems I see are directly related to shoes that aren’t shaped like a person’s foot. Wearing shoes too small or those shaped in an unnatural way will cause deformities,” she adds.  

Pamela Davis, M.D. - Foot & Ankle Specialists, Davenport, IA “Women are binding their feet”
The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and the American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society found in a survey about 80% of women had foot pain and that 59% of women wear uncomfortable shoes for at least an hour a day, either for professional or fashion reasons. Dr. Davis sees the painful result frequently. “Unfortunately, many shoes are basically binding women’s feet and are causing painful stress fractures, bunions, hammertoes, and neuromas.” Bunions are common in women of various ages. “The younger you are, the more likely it is you have a genetic disposition to bunions. Later in life, it’s usually due to ill-fitting shoes.” Bunions follow a painful progression that conforms to the dangerous shape of pointed shoes. Initially the toes become crooked, pain sets in, then they get more crooked. Over time, the big toe heads toward the second toe, and the second, third and fourth toes head towards big toe. Time for surgery?

Early treatment for bunions is pretty simple, says Dr. Davis: “Wear foot-friendly shoes. Later on it takes surgery to correct the deformities. I see a lot of people who don’t know if they should have surgery to correct deformities.” Her rule of thumb: If you are having pain more days than not, then it’s time to have them fixed. But it’s the too tight, too-pointy shoes that are underneath most foot problems: “Ninety percent of the bunions and hammertoes that I see could be...
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