Tips on Healing From Bunion Surgery

A bunion, a growth of bone and soft tissue on the joint of your big toe, develops from a condition called hallux valgus, in which the bone turns outwards, forcing the big toe into the second toe. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, or AAOS, says that the major cause of bunions is overly tight shoes; the condition is nine times more common in women than men 1. If a bunion is very painful, you may require surgery 2. Caring for the incision properly can help prevent infection and promote healing.

Is This an Emergency?

If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.

Medical Aftercare

See the surgeon regularly for a few months following your bunion surgery 2. Your foot will be bandaged, and you may also have a postoperative shoe or cast to protect it. Not only will stitches have to be removed -- usually in two weeks -- but Bunion Surgery Recovery states that the surgeon will need to change the bandages to check for infection and ensure that the first metatarsal bone is properly aligned 2. It is important to keep the dressing dry. The AAOS recommends covering your foot with a plastic bag when showering or bathing, and watching the dressing for signs of bleeding or drainage. If the dressing gets wet or starts to come off, call your doctor.

Post-Surgical Self-Care

For the first few days after surgery, the AAOS advises keeping your foot elevated and applying ice as your doctor recommends. According to Bunion Surgery Recovery, you should stay off your feet for 3 to 5 days after your surgery 2. The AAOS advises using a walker, cane or crutches to get around. Follow your doctor's recommendations exactly for any medications you have been given.

Signs of Infection

Be alert for signs of infection, which can include fever, chills, and a feeling of persistent heat or warmth in the affected foot. The AAOS says that persistent or worsening pain can also be a sign of infection, as can a swelling in the calf of the affected foot.

Later Recovery

After the dressings are removed, you can return to wearing shoes; take care that they allow your feet plenty of room. Premier Podiatry notes that 60 percent of patients will be able to resume wearing shoes in 6 weeks, with 90 percent able to wear shoes at 8 weeks after surgery. The AAOS recommends wearing athletic shoes or soft moccasin or oxford-type footwear, and gradually putting more weight on your foot and walking farther as your incision heals. Do not wear high heels. According to Premier Podiatry, you should wait 1 to 2 months to begin driving again, and refrain from driving until you feel confident that you can come to an emergency stop. The website also advises that you notify your insurance company. If your surgeon has opted to use a plaster cast, the recovery process will be slower. Premier Podiatry says you will not be able to walk on the foot for 6 weeks. When the cast is removed, your surgeon may have you wear a walking boot; you can then gradually return to walking over the next 2 to 6 weeks.