Your Bunion Recovery at Home
The success of your bunion recovery will depend in large part on how well you follow your orthopaedic surgeon’s instructions at home during the first few weeks after foot surgery. You will see your surgeon regularly for the next several months to make sure your foot heals properly.
Dressing Care for Bunion Recovery
You will be discharged from the hospital with bandages holding your toe in its corrected position. You also will wear a special postoperative surgical shoe or cast to protect your foot. Your sutures will be removed about two weeks after surgery, but your foot will require continued support from dressings or a brace for six to eight weeks. To ensure proper healing, it is very important not to disturb your dressings and to keep them dry. Interference with proper healing could cause a recurrence of the bunion. Be sure to place a plastic bag over your foot while showering.
Your orthopaedic surgeon may advise you to use a walker, cane, or crutches for the first few days after surgery. You can gradually put more weight on your foot as your wound heals. However, walk only short distances during the first few weeks following surgery. You will probably be able to drive again within about a week.
Swelling and Shoe Wear
Keep your foot elevated as much as possible for the first few days after surgery, and apply ice as recommended by your orthopaedic surgeon to relieve swelling and pain. You will have some swelling in your foot for about six months. After your dressings have been removed, wear only athletic shoes or soft leather oxford type shoes for the first several months until the surgery has completely healed. Do not wear fashion shoes, including high heels, until after six months. Follow the tips on shoe fit when selecting your shoes. This will help prevent the recurrence of your bunion.
Exercises to Strengthen Your Foot
Some exercises or physical therapy may be recommended to restore your foot’s strength and range of motion after your surgery. Your surgeon may recommend exercises using a surgical band to strengthen your ankle or marbles to restore motion in your toes. Always start these exercises slowly and follow your surgeon’s or physical therapist’s instructions regarding repetitions.
Your orthopaedic surgeon may prescribe antibiotics to prevent infection for several days after your surgery. Pain medication to relieve surgical discomfort also will be prescribed for several days.
Avoiding Problems After Surgery
Though uncommon, complications can occur following bunion surgery. Contact your orthopaedic surgeon if:
- Your dressing loosens, comes off or gets wet.
- Your dressing is moistened with blood or drainage.
- You develop side effects from postoperative medications.
Also, call your orthopaedic surgeon immediately if you notice any of the following warning signs of infection:
- Persistent warmth or redness around the dressing.
- Increased or persistent pain.
- Significant swelling in the calf above the treated foot.