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Victoria Beckham may have a slipped disc, but don't blame her heels

August 23, 2011|By Jeannine Stein, Los Angeles Times / For the Booster Shots blog
  • A pregnant Victoria Beckham, pictured with husband David at the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton, looks comfortable enough in those high heels.
A pregnant Victoria Beckham, pictured with husband David at the wedding… (Kai Pfaffenbach / Reuters )

This post has been corrected. See note at bottom for details.

Say it isn't so -- will unrepentant high-heel fashionista Victoria Beckham have to hang up her stilettos because of a possible slipped disc? Will her wearing flats in public represent the end of fashion as we know it?

Probably not. The U.K.'s Daily Mail reports online that Beckham's friends are saying the sky-high heels she wore during her recent pregnancy may have caused a back injury. She was even photographed wearing towering Christian Louboutin heels at the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton about 10 weeks before she gave birth to baby Harper Seven.

"There is no data that relates slipped discs to high heels," said Dr. Neel Anand, director of orthopedic spine surgery at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. "There is no data to prove it, and I don't think that's an issue at all."

A slipped disc, Anand said, is, essentially, a disc herniation. Bones that make up the spine are cushioned by discs. "They're like spongy bumpers, like a car tire," which cushions the bones, he said. "Like radial tires, when they get a tear, the gelatinous material in the middle can start to squish out." When that happens, it can put pressure on nerves in the spinal canal, causing pain.

A herniated disc can be caused by normal wear and tear, such as bending over or lifting things, Anand said. And pregnancy can put extra strain on a woman's back. But high heels? Not so much.

"Some women actually feel better while wearing high heels," he said. "I tell them to do whatever feels comfortable. If they've been in high heels all their life, they'll probably do better in them than taking them off."

The good news for herniated disc sufferers, said Anand, is that the vast majority get better with conservative treatments such as anti-inflammatory medications, ice and physical therapy. While the disc doesn't repair itself, inflammation usually decreases and symptoms typically disappear. Some people even have disc herniations but are asymptomatic. Rare cases that don't improve or worsen may need to be treated with surgery.

So Posh may be able to climb back into those heels soon, after all. If so, the fashion world will no doubt breathe a sigh of relief.

An earlier version of this post misspelled Dr. Neel Anand's first name as "Need."

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