Do the most important men in your life—and the shoe boxes in your closet—bear the names Manolo, Jimmy C, Enzo, and Stevie M? If so, then there's a good chance high heels are a part of your life.
But unlike Carrie Bradshaw in TV's Sex and the City —who chased men, taxis, and sometimes a dog in the park while teetering on 4-inch stilettos—high-heeled life in the real world can be a killer.
"Women do love their high heels, but if you wear them all the time, significant foot pain and other problems can ensue, either as a direct result of the heels or exacerbated by them," says Morris Morin, DPM, director of podiatric medicine at the Hackensack University Medical Center.
Problems range from common concerns like bunions, corns, and calluses to more complex issues like misshapen hammertoes or that excruciating pain in the ball of the foot that seems to grow worse with each passing year.
Still, many women refuse to give up their high heels: A survey conducted by the American Podiatric Medical Association showed some 42 percent of women admitted they'd wear a shoe they liked even if it gave them discomfort; 73 percent admitted already having a shoe-related foot issue.
So what's the answer? Doctors say if you must wear them at all, take a few precautions, and catch and treat problems early on. If you do, you'll not only avoid many high-heel problems, but you'll make the time you spend in spikes a happier day for your feet.