Women who blithely slip their feet into shoes several inches high every day, risk a variety of ailments in later life, a study has shown.
Though most women know from personal experience that wearing high heels over a period of time could result in sore feet, pinched toes and tight calf muscles, according to a new study by researchers in the US, high heels could also put dangerous pressure on knee joints, wearing away cartilage - the body's built-in shock absorber - and increasing the risk of osteoarthritis.
Some women could also end up requiring invasive knee-replacement surgery.
Stanford University's biomotion team scanned the knees of healthy women as they walked at normal pace in flat shoes, 1.5-inch heels and 3.5-inch heels.
They found that high heels caused women's knees to be held in such an awkward, bent position that their joints looked and performed like aged or damaged joints - increasing the risk of osteoarthritis.
Physiotherapist and osteopath Tim Allardyce says because of the odd angle at which the feet were held in high-heeled shoes, the downward pressure on the knees increased by 25 per cent, placing significant stress on the kneecaps, even while standing.
The average woman spent £136.52 on five new pairs of shoes a year.
Of the 1,200 women, polled in a recent survey 93 per cent said they felt sexier and more feminine and 88 per cent said they considered themselves stylish and 77 per cent said their heels made them feel slimmer.
Allardyce warns that people's choice of footwear could lead to painful back, hip and neck problems.
He added standing and walking on the balls of one's feet threw the skeleton out of its usual, healthy alignment, which meant muscles and joints throughout the body had to compensate to maintain the body's centre of gravity and keep the body upright.
Squeezing feet into narrow, pointed heels could also cause misshapen hammer toes and bunions.
Regular use of 3-inch heels also rendered people vulnerable to tendonitis, an injury to the Achilles tendon.