A bunion is a dislocation of the joint of the big toe as it moves toward the second toe. Heredity can cause one to form a bunion. Other factors that cause the dislocation are ill-fitting shoes such as those too-pointed shoes that make the toes bunch closely together. Even wearing high heels for a long time can cause one to develop bunions. Some bunions hurt while others are not painful. Wider shoes, special inserts (also called orthotics) and activity management are non-surgical treatment that can help you. If you are experiencing some difficulty in walking and have a difficult time looking for the right shoes to wear, there is pain in the dislocated joint and the bunion shows signs of worsening and you already have pain on the ball of your foot, a bunionectomy is the logical solution. It is an outpatient procedure that requires anesthesia – either local with sedation, general anesthesia or in some cases, spinal anesthesia. Recovery depends on your body constitution and the type of surgery performed.
The bone will need to heal after a bunionectomy surgery. It can take up to six weeks for the bone to heal, on the average. When the surgery was done close to the big toe joint, you may be allowed to walk after the surgery by wearing a bunion shoe. If the bunion condition is severe and the surgery is done farther from the big toe joint, you will be required to wear a cast and use crutches for a specified period. You may also be required to keep off your feet to allow your foot to heal properly without stress.
- After the surgery, you will be required to stay for a few hours at the hospital to monitor your condition for signs of bleeding and swelling and allow the anesthesia to wear off.
- When you reach home it is advisable to stay off your feet to relieve pressure on the foot and minimize the swelling as the blood will flow downwards and increase the swelling. Place your foot on a stack of pillows and keep it elevated even when you sleep.
- Your surgeon may advise you to use ice packs on the affected foot. Use an ice bag to prevent the surgical dressing from getting wet. You can do this several times a day upon the advice of your surgeon.
- You will have to take some prescribed pain and anti-inflammatory drugs to promote healing. Some of these drugs can cause dizziness and the sleepiness. It will be best for you to stay indoors while under medication.
- Do not allow the dressing and the wound to get wet. You need to keep it dry for at least two weeks, as the wound will still be fresh. Cover your foot with plastic when you bathe and place it over the edge of the tub.
- When you are allowed to be ambulatory once again, it will be best to wear a special shoe or brace to protect your foot. Minimize the times that you will remain standing. Using crutches will help eliminate too much weight and pressure on your foot.
- Visit your doctor at the prescribed time to check on the progress of your healing. The sutures may be removed after two weeks, in which time the doctor will tell you what to do next. The wound is still not fully healed at this stage and you need to stay off your feet longer.
- Wear roomy sandals that will not touch the area where the bunionectomy was performed. When you are allowed to wear regular shoes again, choose a pair with wide fronts to allow your toes to rest comfortably inside the shoes.
It will take at least six months to fully recover from bunionectomy. Bones and tissues take time to heal so you need to be patient and take all the necessary post-operative treatments to promote healing.