Orthopedic surgery is a very effective way of correcting bunions, a painful condition where a bony growth forms on the joint where the big toe attached to the foot. Often, this causes the big toe turns in toward the other toes. Although traditional bunion surgery involved the surgeon making a cut around 5 cm long, an increasing number of orthopedic surgeons are now using minimally invasive bunion surgery to correct this common foot problem. Even with minimally invasive bunion surgery, recovery can take a few weeks.
Pain After Bunion Surgery
When the anesthetic used for the surgery wears off, which takes around six to twelve hours, you are likely to start feeling some pain. However, you can use oral pain medications to relieve the pain, which should start to subside after three or four days. Resting the foot can also relieve discomfort.
Exercising the Foot
According to orthopedic surgeon Dr. Peter Lam, exercising the foot is an important part of recovery. He recommends that patients recovering from bunion surgery gently wiggle the toes every two hours, starting from the day after surgery. It's also important to rotate the ankles every two hours and do some leg raises twice a day to reduce the risk of blood clots.
Getting Back to Normal Activities
For up to two weeks after surgery, you will need to use crutches to get around. However, it is best to rest as much as possible in the week after surgery, so don't push yourself too hard. You may be given orthopedic shoes to wear after surgery to help support the recovering tissue. You can start wearing your own shoes after six weeks.
Many people are able to go back to work after two or three weeks, as long as their job involves sitting down and they are able to get to work. Most people need to wait four to six weeks before they can drive again. However, if you drive an automatic car and the affected foot is not the one you use for the pedals, then you may be able to drive an automatic car after only two weeks.
Even with new, minimally invasive bunion surgical techniques, it can take up to six months for patients to feel completely well. Dr. Peter Lam advises waiting for three months before resuming sports that involve running or jumping, as these activities can place a lot of strain on the foot.
When recovering from bunion surgery, you need to follow the guidance of an orthopedic surgeon, such as Dr Jonathan Herald, who will let you know when you can resume your normal activities. Do not push yourself too hard following surgery, or you risk delaying your recovery.