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Jeans and high heels cause nerve damage?

May 28, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
Women have been known to suffer for beauty, but would you risk your health? When you wear certain types of clothes - like jeans - a tight fit might be fashionable, but it could also lead to painful, even permanent condition. Whether it's designer or discount -- it's all about the fit.

"I have long legs I want them to go all the way down. If I am wearing flats or if I am wearing boots I want them snug," said Sylvia Vega.

Forty-four-year-old Sylvia Vega owns her own business, so her jeans dress code is sleek and snug.

"There's a difference between snug and painted on," said Vega.

But when I ask her if she ever struggles to get them on, she avoided the question.

"Ha, next question," said Vega.

"I agree with suffering to look good, but there's a limit to that," said Dr. Yafa Minazad, neurologist.

Dr. Minazad says tight, tight jeans can lead to a leg-numbing condition called meralgia paresthetica, also known as "tingling thigh syndrome."

"You can have symptoms such as burning, tingling sensation and numbness on the side of the thigh. And it can last days, weeks if not months and it's very painful and uncomfortable," said Dr. Minazad.

The culprit tight jeans that put prolonged pressure on the femoral nerve. It runs through the front of the legs starting near the hips.

The femoral nerve provides sensation to part of the thigh and lower leg.

"When the nerves are not getting enough circulation, they tingle, they stop working then you feel numbness and then you have neurological symptoms from that," said Dr. Minazad.

And pairing tight jeans with sky high heels could be asking for more trouble. Experts say when you're standing on your tippy toes it changes the position of your body and could possibly put you at more risk.

"Basically the position of your pelvis and your body and back in relationship to each other changes so you just may put that nerve more at risk of compression," said Dr. Minazad.

Dr. Minazad says constant compression could lead to permanent damage. But if you wear looser pants, the pain will eventually go away.

"I don't recommend constantly insulting the nerve. If you have symptoms you should not be doing it every day," said Dr. Minazad.

Sylvia doesn't want to compromise her health, but she still says looking good doesn't always mean comfort.

"Whether shaving or waxing we always suffer for beauty," said Vega.

In terms of which styles are less likely to cause tingling thigh syndrome, Dr. Minazad says it depends on your anatomy. High waist jeans could pose a problem; however, low rise jeans might cause more constriction around the hip area.

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