Could High Heels Cause Migraines?

Many women are willing to invest their entire paychecks and suffer a few blisters in order to walk in a much-coveted pair.

There's been much talk recently about the possibility that wearing high heels could be connected with getting migraines—a debilitating headache that causes throbbing pain and sensitivity to sound and light. For many sufferers, migraines affect daily living and translate into a compromised quality of life.

The Effects of Wearing High Heels

The concept of shoes as a migraine cause first came to light when presidential hopeful Michele Bachmann reported that heels seem to trigger severe migraine attacks. This claim sparked media frenzy, causing many reporters to look to the medical community to find out if any valid medical connection really exists. 

While high heels can certainly be to blame for a host of foot ailments, to date, there isn't any significant scientific data on shoe choice and migraines.

Footwear as a Migraine Cause

Some experts believe that the offset of migraines are more likely to be caused by the continual use of high heels and not due to a particular kind of footwear.  Since heels are often worn on formal occasions, it could be the stress of the event that triggers the headache and not the actual shoe itself.

But there are other factors involved in wearing heels that some women suggest may also be to blame. For instance, when you walk in high heels, this can put more tension on your back than more sensible shoes, and for some, this can be enough to set off a migraine. Very high heels can also affect the body's overall alignment, which can cause tension on the feet and back, which can lead to a headache or migraine.

Other risk factors include gender, since women are three times more likely than men to suffer from migraines, as well as hormonal changes, and family history. Regardless of what triggers your migraine, though, it's important to talk to your doctor to find out the best treatment strategy to help keep it under wraps.

How to Prevent Migraines

There are a number of medications that, when taken regularly (daily or during high-risk periods) can help to prevent or minimize the severity of a migraine. Once you're in the middle of a migraine, though, you'll need some pain-relieving medication. Some people with mild symptoms may find that over-the-counter drugs can be enough, but for frequent and severe migraines, your doctor may prescribe something stronger.

Other Ways to Take Control

You can also make some lifestyle choices to keep your headaches under control. For instance, getting enough sleep can reduce stress and help you feel better. Muscle relaxation exercises can also be used to relieve some of the tension that can trigger a headache or migraine.

When you do feel a migraine starting, sometimes using an ice pack on the back of your neck and resting in a dark room can help. You should also pay attention to your symptoms and determine when and where they occur, so you can identify patterns that can help you to avoid common triggers.

If you do find that the effects of high heels seem to extend to your migraine headaches, it could be time to put them away and opt for more practical footwear choices. Today it's easy to find many comfortable and affordable shoes that look stylish and are pain free.




"Migraine." Mayo Clinic. Mayo Foundation for Education and Research, 4 June 2011. Web. 2 Aug. 2011.

Park, Alice. "Can Heels Trigger Migraines?" Time Healthland, 21 July 2011. Web. 2 Aug. 2011.