What you should do after bunion surgery
As a Podiatrist, I have helped many clients who struggle with their sports and normal activities due to bunion pain.
For some, bunion surgery is the only way to stop them from being in pain day in day out.
While surgery corrects the position of the big toe joint, the forces that created the bunion in the first place are still there.
Therefore, to prevent any complications from developing, the right rehabilitation after your surgery is vital for you to get the best results.
When should I start bunion surgery rehabilitation?
The rehabilitation process begins the minute you leave the operating theatre.
You will be fitted with a post-operative offloading sandal and have follow-up appointments with your surgeon to check that the area is healing well.
"So when should you book in to see a Podiatrist?" I recommend that you book in to see your Podiatrist 6 weeks after your surgery.
At this stage, you will be moving out from your post-operative sandal and into a wide fitting comfortable shoe to start putting more load through your foot, so getting a full biomechanical assessment from your Podiatrist is essential.
How can a Podiatrist help after bunion surgery?
Podiatrists are the experts in lower limb function and movement.
Our Podiatrists will provide you with a detailed management plan for the next stages of your rehabilitation.
1. Asses the results of your bunion surgery
We will perform a comprehensive assessment to determine if you are overloading any joints and or muscles and see if you are left with any restrictions in the range of motion of your joints after your surgery.
During the assessment, we will review if you are getting enough range of motion through your big toe joint and if you are moving correctly when you are walking.
2. The right shoes to wear after bunions surgery
6 weeks after your surgery you will transition out of your post-operative sandal into a wide fitting supportive shoe.
Your big toe joint may still be swollen and any pressure from tight shoes can cause irritation and pain and may slow down healing.
Your current shoes may need to be changed if they are too tight or too flat and don't give your foot enough support.
3. Orthoses help with bunion pain
Depending on your biomechanical assessment orthoses may be required.
Orthoses work by altering the forces generated when your foot hits the ground.
Different tissues (bone, ligament, fascia, tendon, etc) cope with different forces in different ways and, if some of the tissues in your foot or leg are damaged or deconditioned these ‘normal forces’ can cause pain and problems.
Orthoses when prescribed correctly work best by moving load away from painful areas and improving joint function.
After surgery it is important to protect your big toe joint from being overloaded and damaged, this is where orthoses will help.
4. How to strengthen your feet after bunion surgery
After bunion surgery and 6 weeks in a post-operative shoe, your muscles in your foot especially surrounding your big toe joint weaken and stiffen up.
This in combination with swelling surrounding the joint reduces the range of motion in your big toe joint.
To begin with, your Podiatrist will prescribe you gentle semi weight-bearing exercises and mobilisation exercises to help restore some strength and range of motion into your big toe joint.
Then depending on how you tolerate these exercises and the level of swelling you will be able to progress these to weight-bearing exercises to help strengthen your big toe in more of a functional way.
Two great exercises for bunion prevention and rehabilitation post-surgery are big toe joint rotations (hallux mobilisation) and arch strengthening exercises (targeting abductor hallucis muscle).
The button below is a handout explaining these exercises:
We Are Here To Help
If you have had a bunion surgery or are experiencing pain in your big toe joint, the first thing to do is book an appointment with one of the Podiatrists at Complete Podiatry for a comprehensive assessment to identify your stage of rehabilitation post bunion surgery.
Once this is done, we will develop a structured management plan that outlines our best advice for rehabilitation after bunion surgery and help you to return to doing the things you love to do.
I'm so confident we can help with your rehabilitation post bunion surgery that I'd love to chat with you personally, it's what I'm passionate about!
Click on the button below to book an appointment online now:
Podiatrist at Complete Podiatry