Bunions (halluces valgi) develop when your first metatarsal bone turns outward, causing your big toe to lean inward. This creates a painful bump at the metatarsophalangeal joint. Although they develop slowly, bunions can contribute to pain, swelling, and redness on your big toe.
If prescription medication, physical therapy, corticosteroid injections, and orthotics aren’t enough to reduce your discomfort, Dr. Ruben Nieto may recommend bunion surgery.
If you’re scheduled for an upcoming bunionectomy at Diabetic Foot and Wound Center in Bakersfield, California, you might have questions about your recovery.
Here’s a look at what you can expect from bunion surgery.
What’s involved with bunion surgery?
Bunion surgery — bunionectomy — is performed when conservative treatments aren’t enough to reduce your pain. The goal of surgery is to reduce your pain and correct the deformity caused by the bunion. In other words, your surgery focuses on realigning your bones around the joint at the base of your big toe.
The exact procedures and techniques used depend on what type of bunion surgery you have: minimally invasive bunion surgery or traditional open surgery.
Minimally invasive surgery requires smaller incisions, which leads to a shorter recovery and less discomfort. If an open surgery is necessary, you may need to plan for a slightly longer recovery.
The type of surgery we recommend depends on your situation, but regardless, you will have incisions to care for after bunion surgery. Once the incision is made, Dr. Nieto repositions your toe and secures it with screws, plates, and wires.
What to expect during bunionectomy recovery
Bunion surgery requires anesthesia, incisions, and plates, screws, and/or wires. All of these factors will influence your recovery journey. Most importantly, you’ll need to prioritize self-care and shed a little extra TLC on your foot after surgery.
You can nourish your body by eating healthy food, resting, taking any medications as prescribed, and following your post-op instructions as thoroughly as possible.
Before your stitches are removed, it’s important to keep your incision site clean and dry. Dr. Nieto provides these instructions when you return home after your surgery.
If you notice any signs of infection — fever, tenderness that increases, swelling, pus, and foul odor — don’t hesitate to reach out. You may need antibiotics to clear an infection.
Protecting your foot
Even once your stitches are removed, the bones in your foot still need up to 12 weeks to heal. During this time, you’ll likely wear a special boot to protect your foot.
You may also consider using an assistive walking device (such as crutches, walker, or scooter) to help with mobility while your foot heals. You can further promote healing by elevating your foot at night and refraining from putting weight on your affected foot.
After any surgery, it’s normal to experience both pain and nausea. The nausea is a common side effect of anesthesia. Surgeries that affect bones can be painful, so it’s important to stay on top of your medication schedule as directed. You can support bone healing by eating foods rich in calcium and vitamin D.
Physical therapy plays a key role during your recovery because it helps restore your range of motion. Continue to practice any and all physical therapy exercises we recommend.
After the initial recovery period, you should notice an improvement in the mobility of your foot, as well as a reduction in pain where your bunion was located.
Not sure if bunion surgery is right for you? Surgery isn’t right for everyone, and it’s not always a first line of defense against bunions. But if you’re dealing with pain from bunions, you don’t have to suffer in silence.
Call Dr. Ruben Nieto at 661-238-7526 to make an appointment. You can also schedule an appointment at our Bakersfield, California, office using our online scheduling tool and explore all of your bunion treatment options from injections to surgery.