Women who love to wear high heels may like the attention that their pretty feet can draw, but the nerve disease that they may acquire is not exactly a "wow" factor.

More and more women have reported foot pain comparable to "walking on razor blades." A new study shows that women are eight to 10 times more likely to develop the condition called Morton's neuroma, compared to men because of women's fondness of wearing high-heeled and ill-fitting footwear.

The new study presented at the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh reveals that women who are 40 to 69 years old exhibited a 115 percent increase in the incidence of hospital admissions due to Morton's neuroma.

The researchers analyzed data collated for 10 years and found that from 1,179 cases in 2004 to 2005, the rate of middle-age women receiving treatments for the condition rose to 2,532. Fifty percent of these patients were prescribed to have surgical operation to alleviate the symptoms.

The researchers have long been aware that Morton's neuroma mostly affects women in their middle ages, said Andrew Craig, study presenter and orthopedic research fellow at Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

It is highly speculated that wearing high heels and tight-fitting shoes is a significant factor in the occurrence of the condition, despite it being fabulous.

"Increasing awareness of Morton's neuroma can only be a good thing, not least because numbness in the foot could be a sign of other, potentially life-altering conditions, such as diabetes," Craig added.

The study also presented treatment options for Morton's neuroma, and these include wearing special insoles and receiving steroid injections. Surgery for this condition involves the removal of the restricted nerve, thereby resulting in the complete cessation of sensation in the affected areas.

Morton's neuroma, also known as Morton's metatarsalgia or interdigital neuroma, is a condition characterized by the development of fibrous tissues around a nerve, which subsequently gets inflamed, compressed and irritated. When this happens, the patient experiences severe pain usually on the balls of the foot and at the base of the toes.

Although the exact etiology of the condition is not yet clearly identified, experts say the pain develops when the metatarsal bones induce pressure to the nerve specifically if the distance between the bones are limited. The nerve and the tissues then thicken and cause pain.

Photo: William Murphy | Flickr

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