It's long been known that women who wear high-heels on a daily basis risk ankle and foot damage but now medical specialists can show high-heel wearers exactly how the shoes are impacting their health. A new 3D scanner at the Royal Orthopaedic Hospital (RNOH) in north London is set to transform the way doctors diagnose and treat foot and ankle problems, and may even influence the way shoes are designed in the future. Matthew Stock has more.
LONDON, ENGLAND, UK / REUTERS / ITN / CURVEBEAM - This 3D scan shows the pressure high heels exert on the feet.
It shows how body weight is piled forward onto the sesamoids, the two pea-shaped bones under big toe.
The images were produced by a 3D scanner made by US company, Curvebeam. The machine is now being used at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital in north London. And orthopaedic surgeon, Andy Goldberg says it's transforming the way high-heel related problems are being diagnosed
ANDY GOLDBERG, RNOH CONSULTANT ORTHOPAEDIC SURGEON, POINTING AT 3D SCAN ON COMPUTER MONITOR,
"... the big toe is lifted upwards in a strange position, and all the lesser toes you can see are clawed. And in that clawed-toed position they stay for the duration the person is in the high heels."
The technology allows doctors to examine feet and ankles down to the bones, as their patients stand inside the scanner wearing their shoes. And the patients can see in real time, the impact of their choices....choices that women all over the world make on a daily basis.
In western culture high heels are ubiquitous. No fashion show is complete without them, despite the occassional stumble - and even the Duchess of Cambridge courted controversy by playing hockey in them.
But former dancer Karen Brown blames high heels for the foot and ankle pain she has endured for years.
KAREN BROWN, FORMER DANCER,
"Yeah, it's the worst pain ever. When I'd come home and take the shoes off I'd have to take paracetamol, Ibuprofen and Co-codomol and just keep my feet up because of the swelling. That's what high heels does."
But the 3D scanner gives Andy Goldberg hope for the future. He believes the technology could lead to the development of reasonably priced, customised footwear.
MR ANDY GOLDBERG, RNOH CONSULTANT ORTHOPAEDIC SURGEON, POINTING AT 3D SCAN ON COMPUTER MONITOR,
"For many years we've been designing shoe-wear so that our feet have to fit into someone else's idea of shoes. And the new paradigm that I'd love to see in the future is if we can develop shoes that fit people's feet comfortably, and that will improve people's health immeasurably."
Goldberg acknowledges that such a development may be years away but, he says for health reasons, it would be a step in the right direction.