Bunion Surgery Recovery and Treatment Options
When looking at bunion surgery before-and-after images, you may notice that medical professionals can correct even the most severe bunions. However, you may still be hesitant to book your appointment for surgical treatment, wondering if undergoing surgery is the best possible choice for your situation.
If you have questions about bunion treatment options and the recovery process, we can help. Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about bunion surgery and treatment.
What Does Bunion Surgery Entail?
A bunion is a bony bump located on the side of the big toe joint growing on the outside edge of the foot. Bunions are visible at the part of the joint where the toe meets the foot, known as the metatarsophalangeal (MTP) joint.
Various approaches to treating bunions exist. Below are the most common types of bunion surgery.
3 Types of Bunion Surgery
- Exostectomy: During an exostectomy, your surgeon will shave off the bunion. This approach is typically combined with osteotomy in order to reposition the toe. Exostectomies are not commonly performed and are only recommended for minor bunions.
- Osteotomy: During an osteotomy, your surgeon will make a few small incisions in the bones, then use screws or pins to realign your big toe joint. Osteotomies are the most commonly performed procedure for bunions.
- Arthrodesis: In the event that arthritis inflammation has led to your bunions, your healthcare provider may opt for this procedure. During arthrodesis joint fusion, your surgeon will remove any parts of the big toe joint with arthritis. They will then place screws in the toe to hold the bones together while they heal. Arthrodesis joint fusion is only performed on the most severe of bunions.
Who Needs Bunion Surgery?
It is important to note that surgery must only be used in situations where bunions interfere with your daily life, rather than for treating them for cosmetic reasons. In general, if your bunion is not painful and does not cause problems in your day-to-day routine, you do not need to undergo surgery. While bunions may grow larger over time, doctors do not recommend surgery to prevent them from worsening. Instead, you can slow the progression of a bunion by taking preventive measures such as wearing proper shoes.
You should consider bunion surgery if you’re experiencing any of the following issues:
- Significant pain that limits everyday activities, including walking short distances
- Pain that does not improve with medication usage (e.g., using nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen and naproxen)
- Chronic inflammation in the affected toe area that does not improve with rest or medication usage
- Stiffness or inability to bend or straighten the affected toe
- Toe deformity, especially if there is potential for toes to cross over each other
- Failure to relieve pain with changes in footwear, such as wearing comfortable shoes (e.g., athletic shoes)
Tips for Recovering from Bunion Surgery
Bunion surgery is an outpatient procedure, which means you will be able to return home the same day as your procedure. After the surgery is complete, you will wait in a recovery room for one to two hours until your healthcare provider determines it is safe for you to leave. At this time, you will have to arrange for someone to drive you home since you may still be affected by anesthesia.
During your recovery at home, you will be instructed to:
- Avoid putting weight on your big toe
- Elevate your foot to reduce swelling
- Keep your wound and bandages dry
- Take pain medicines as prescribed
During the first two weeks following the surgery, you may need to ask someone to help you around the house, such as by preparing meals or doing chores. To move comfortably, you may also need to use crutches, a scooter, or a walker.
After six to twelve weeks, you will begin to regain foot function. You’ll be able to restore your foot’s strength and range of motion by utilizing specific physical therapy exercises. While you’ll be able to resume your normal activities after about three months, you may experience swelling for six to nine months after surgery.
Be sure to visit your healthcare provider for pre-scheduled post-op visits following surgery to ensure that your foot heals correctly.
Schedule Your Bunion Surgery Treatment with Us Today
Take the next step forward and get the treatment you deserve. At the Rutgers North Jersey Orthopaedic Institute, we are proud to offer patients state-of-the-art orthopaedic care. Our physicians in the Foot & Ankle division specialize in diagnosing and treating a range of conditions related to the foot and ankle, as well as associated ligaments, tendons, muscles, nerves, and bones.
Contact us to schedule an appointment with one of our physicians today to learn more about how we can treat your bunions, chronic foot pain, or another related condition.