Before you splurge on those Manolo Blahnik stilettos, consider this: wearing high heels can compromise foot health. According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and the American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society, 80 percent of women surveyed report having foot pain; 74 percent of them wear heels.

Of course, other shoe factors contribute to foot problems. Shoes characterized by pointy toes and poor fit can wreak havoc on feet. Indeed, uncomfortable shoes often lead to calluses, heel pain, bunions, hammertoes, neuromas, ingrown toenails and even stress fractures. As a result, 85 percent of survey respondents changed shoes or wore their old favorites less frequently.

Still, the survey reveals that most womennearly 60 percentwear uncomfortable shoes for at least one hour every day. Why? "'Work' or 'style' is the reason given by 77 percent of women," orthopaedic foot and ankle surgeon Gail Dalton reports. "Wearing uncomfortable shoes remains prevalent throughout the world today, despite an increasing body of knowledge that improperly-fitting shoewear can lead to foot problems."

In addition to selecting form over function, most women do not get their feet measured while shopping for shoes. "People's feet often widen and lengthen with age, so having one's shoe size measured at frequent intervals throughout life is critical," Dalton asserts. "Hopefully, by convincing women that high heels, pointy toes and poorly fitting shoes can harm their foot health over a lifetime, we will start to see women demanding healthy shoes that are fitted properly."