CHICAGO — What causes bunions?

"They can be worsened by high heels," said Dr. David Garras, an orthopedic surgeon at Midwest Orthopaedic Consultants. "The strongest factor for developing a bunion is usually genetics."

Can you correct them by using a bunion sleeve or splint?

"They can alleviate some of the pain or what have you," Garras said. "They cannot correct the bunion."

Kathleene Faragai-Moke has had bunions since she was a teen. When she became a high school math teacher, the pain became unbearable.

"It was a shooting pain, even like, if I was just standing still," she said. "I didn't even have to be walking."

The traditional way most doctors correct a bunion is through open surgery that can be painful with a long recovery time. But now, some orthopedic surgeons are using a minimally invasive bunionectomy.

"What she ended up having is a bunionectomy done through about four or five small little poke hole incisions," Garras explained.

Through those holes, Garras was able to cut the bone using a small burr.

Surgery time is the same for both, but with the minimally invasive procedure, incisions are smaller, there's less soft tissue damage, less bleeding, less scarring, less swelling, less pain.

"I would say by the second week, I was walking on my heel," Faragoi-Moke said.

The surgery worked so well, a few months later, she had the other foot done.

"Changed my life," she said. "I never have pain in my feet. I wear sandals again. I don't have to wear wide shoes anymore. It was great."

Garris said not everybody is a candidate for the minimally invasive bunionectomy. It works best on somebody who has a moderate to severe bunion, no arthritis, no midfoot collapse.