High heeled footwear is not inherently bad. Generally it is all about moderation. Regardless of what it is, anything taken or done to excess is not good for us.
For there to be an even weight distribution over the foot there has to be a heel of approximately 1/4 inch. So a high heel is anything over an inch a half
Obviously the higher the heel the more weight goes on the front of the foot which is why the ball of the feet hurt.
As long as all the key joints between hip and toes fall within normal limits and an individual's balance is normal then walking in 4 or 5 inch heels will be comfortable for a period of time. But it makes walking at a normal pace challenging.
Setting aside accidents and injuries, when pain arises then it is important to realise it is rarely a defect with that part of our body. It is usually the result of how we move our body as a consequence of a decision we have made with our mind. A high number of these revolve around our habits and routines.
The higher a heel goes, the more rigid the leg becomes. This having the effect of reducing shock absorption as the heel comes to ground so increasing the forces entering the body via the foot. It is important to remember every structure in our body has limits on how much load is tolerable before damage is done. Once exceeded aches and pains arise.
Some people wear high heels most of the time, often it is to give extra height and frequently it is part of what is expected as a dress standard. A high percentage of these people find that wearing lower heeled footwear is uncomfortable. This has arisen as consequence of muscles at the back of the legs not being put through the normal range of movement.
When wearing high heels causes pain in and around the heels, arches of the feet or on the balls of the feet. Again this is not usually a defect with the feet. It is all about how the joints are aligned. The later is the result of how we move. The primary issue is frequently how the upper body is controlled;especially when sitting down.
If you are suffering, vary the style,increase shock absorption of the soles and lower the heels in the short term. Find a podiatrist that understands biomechanics and work with them to gradually bring your body back into balance. Once achieved you can wear high heels again.