Our love affair with fashionable shoes can lead to a number of serious and painful foot problems.

More than half of the population suffers from foot problems, and often those problems are directly related to our shoes, according to a study from the Institute for Preventive Foot Health.

"Wearing the wrong shoes can lead to life-long deformities that require surgery to fix," said Dr. Orly Avitzur, medical adviser for Consumer Reports.

Shoes that force feet into narrow or pointy toes can cause bunions or hammertoes. High heels can shorten the Achilles tendon and can trigger plantar fasciitis, an inflammation of the tissues of the soles. Even flat shoes can harm feet if they lack support and cushioning.

"Opt for lower heels to take some of the pressure off the ball of your foot," Avitzur said. "Make sure that there is enough room in the toe, and avoid thin-soled shoes that have little support."

The most common problem is wearing the wrong size. Feet change with age. They lose padding and they lengthen and spread. Adults, as well as children, should have their feet measured when buying shoes.