Hallux rigidus also worsens with time. “Most women usually don’t run to the doctor right away,” San Giovanni said. “They live with it for a while and then when it gets bad they come in.”
Indeed, it is after their 40s that many women seek help for foot problems. Most women with conditions like metatarsalgia, and hammertoes are in their 40s, 50s and 60s, Steinlauf said.
“The foot takes a heck of a beating as you age,” Steinlauf said.
Obesity can also lead to foot problems.
“People who do not take good care of their feet, using improper footwear, are overweight, do not stretch their Achilles routinely, and do not have a healthy lifestyle tend to have more problems with their feet,” Steinlauf said.
A first, yet perhaps unpopular, remedy for women is to wear shoes with a moderate heel, of two inches or lower, that are wide enough that they do not squeeze the toes, Steinlauf advises. He also recommends doing exercises to stretch the Achilles tendon for as much as 20 minutes each day.
Doctors have an additional arsenal of treatments, with many non-surgical options.
After evaluating the foot issue and its cause, doctors say they can help alleviate pain with orthotics or padding, as well as anti-inflammatory injections or physical therapy.
“Surgery is reserved for when non-operative treatment fails or non-operative treatment would prove ineffective to even try,” San Giovanni said.
In fact, surgery can lead to complications, as it did for Ares, who was previously treated elsewhere.
“Everyone wants the magic bullet, and they go to doctors that give them surgery,” Steinlauf said.
“Only go to a surgical option when all else has failed and your quality of life is bad and you are in pain.”