MEDSTAR (WAOW) -- Though a bunion makes it hard to wear trendy shoes, "Fashion Pangs" aren't the reason to get surgery. As Janet Vasil tells us, there are ways to balance 'bunion' and 'beauty'.
A few clues made Elaine Davin wonder if she was developing a bunion.
Elaine says "I noticed that my shoes were getting a little tight and it seemed like the bone was a protruding little bit on the side."
Elain, just like her mom, had a bunion. It's a common foot deformity that affects millions.
Dr. Judy Baumhauer, M.D. "Bunions are quite common. They're actually a leaning of the great toe over towards the second toe."
Though genetics plays a role, Dr. Baumhauer says shoe choices play an even bigger one.
Dr. Baumhauer says "The shoes that are pointy, high heeled shoes can sort of mold your toes into that position where they lean over towards the second toe."
The bony bump can be accommodated with common sense solutions, like using an arch support, and buying the right shoes.
"That doesn't mean you have to wear those big grandma shoes or anything, or the orthopaedic shoes. You just need shoes that are not narrow and pointy."
Living with a bunion is this doctor's first choice, because surgery can cause more problems that it fixes.
Dr. Baumhauer says "So don't fall for the, ‘If I get it fixed now it won't be such a problem later.' Because if you get it fixed now, you could have an infection, you could have a recurrence of your bunion. You can have a nerve injury."
But when does surgery make sense?
"I can't fit in the shoes, I can't do the things I want to do and I've tried all the non-operative, that's when it's appropriate to have some surgery." says Baumhauer.
Bunion guidelines that will help you walk away from unnecessary surgery. This is Janet Vasil reporting.
Dr. Baumhauer isn't totally opposed to chic shoes. She says you can wear them for special occasions, but as soon as you get home, kick them off and put on your comfortable ones.
FAST FACTS: More than 28 percent of Americans have a bunion. 90 percent of bunion patients are women. Poorly fitting shoes are a major contributor to bunion formation. Many people with bunions can be successfully treated with non-surgical options. For more details, refer to our comprehensive research summary.