GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA) –  According to orthopedic surgeon Dr. Jay Womack, 10 to 15% of the population will develop a bunion in their lifetime.

Dr. Womack, of Piedmont Orthopaedic Associates, described bunions as a type of foot deformity. He said, “The foot becomes very wide, and the big toe tends to stick out to the side.  As the foot gets wider, it rubs against the shoe, and causes a lot of pain for patients, or difficultly with shoe wear.” 

Upstate resident Jo-Ann Morano, a patient of Dr. Womack, has struggled with painful bunions on both of her feet. She said, “I’ve had bad feet for as long as I can remember.”

Womack says patients like Morano most often get bunions because of their genes, not necessarily because of footwear choice, like wearing high heels.  

Dr. Womack spoke about a new, minimally invasive technique for treating bunions and said that it can also be used for other foot problems, including arthritis and hammer toes. “Most surgeries involve really large incisions and prolonged periods of non-weight bearing, which is really inconvenient for people. So, what a minimally invasive approach does, is use much smaller incisions,” he said.  

Dr. Womack said his practice is the first in South Carolina to use the minimally invasive technique, and he calls it “a game-changer” for patients.  He said he has spoken with patients who have had the standard, more invasive bunion surgery performed on one foot and then the minimally invasive technique done on the other foot. “What [patients] tell me is, they’re able to mobilize a lot faster. They hurt a lot less, and they’re able to get their motion back a lot faster in their toes.  Because we didn’t do big open incisions, they recover a lot more quickly,” he said.  

In January, Jo-Ann Morano underwent the minimally invasive surgery to treat the bunion on her left foot. She said, “I feel when I walk, I’m walking like I should be walking and like I haven’t walked for my entire life.”  She said it went so well, she has already asked Dr. Womack when she can have her right foot done. That surgery is scheduled for March.

“It’s 110% better than what it was, before I had the surgery done.  And as far as getting up and going, it’s been great,” Morano said. “I highly recommend it. I was so glad I went and had it taken care of.”   

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