Manolo Blahniks and Jimmy Choos we see gracing the feet of Hollywood superstars, it's hard to deny their glamour.
However, medical researchers have evidence that for many women, pain is indeed often the price of beauty when it comes to such fashionable female footwear.
According to the American Podiatric Medical Association, high heels, defined as shoes with heels over 2 inches, are "biomechanically and orthopedically unsound."
Aside from putting women's feet in an anatomically awkward position, high heels can lead to debilitating knee and back problems, shortened calf muscles and Achilles tendons, and an awkward gait.
Towering pumps have also been known to increase pressure on the inside of the knee, which can lead to osteoarthritis, a painful joint disease in which cartilage surrounding the knee breaks down due to wear and tear.
About 80 percent of Americans with arthritis have osteoarthritis, and approximately 300,000 knee replacements are performed annually because of this disorder. And ladies, osteoarthritis is twice as common among women than men.
Other problems with high heels include ingrown nails and susceptibility to foot fungus, according to Grete Taraval, M.D., an orthopedic surgeon in Denver, Colo.
"Women with high heel problems generally report calluses and pain in their heels, but foot ailments can range from mild to serious," Taraval said. "A shooting pain in a woman's toes can point to other problems, not to mention permanent deformities in the bones in the ball of her foot."
In a 2001 study conducted by a team of Harvard University researchers, osteoarthritis in the knee was linked with high heels. While thick, wide heels commonly led to knee problems, stilettos and narrow heels led to bone deformities and localized foot problems.