If you have lived with a bunion or hammertoe for any length of time, you are well aware of what kind of impact it can have on your life.
Your foot deformity can influence what kind of shoes you can comfortably wear, what kinds of activities you can comfortably conduct, and even how much energy you have throughout the day. Having an aching foot or feet at the end of a long day of work, for example, pretty much kills any motivation to do much more.
For some patients—often those who have severe cases of bunions or hammertoes—it may be determined that surgery is the best option for finding relief.
Surgery is understandably something that many people have questions about, or is not something they look forward to having performed. We absolutely understand these concerns, and will be spending this blog discussing some of the expectations that come with surgery for either of these conditions.
Of course, we might not answer all your questions here. If we do not, please do not hesitate to reach out to us. Nobody should ever move ahead with a surgery without knowing everything they need to regarding it!
Surgery is Always Considered for a Good Reason
If surgery is being considered as an option for your treatment, that consideration is not being made lightly.
Surgery is typically not even an option we bring to the table unless non-surgical methods have not had the results we have hoped to see, or it is clear that non-surgical forms of treatment would be a waste of your time and resources. The pain and other problems associated with your condition must also have a significant impact on your life.
Our primary goal for treating bunions and hammertoes is to help our patients find relief, and the condition itself does not always need to be “corrected” to do so. If we can do that through non-surgical methods, we will almost always prefer those over surgery!
What is Bunion Surgery Like?
Although a bunion might seem like a straightforward condition, surgical approaches to treating it can vary greatly. In fact, there are more than 100 different surgical procedures! They may include cutting and realigning the bones of your big toe joint, simply removing the bump itself, or replacing the joint with screws and plates, among other options. We will of course discuss with you the particulars of any procedure we recommend.
Most bunion surgeries are performed under local anesthesia. You would be awake for the surgery, but an “ankle block” would be given to you. This makes everything below your ankle numb.
Your stay in the recovery room typically takes a couple hours, but may vary somewhat depending on the procedure. You should be able to return home afterward.
What is Hammertoe Surgery Like?
A hammertoe surgery has several similarities to bunion surgery. You would still be awake for the procedure; however, in many cases only the toes to be operated upon will receive anesthesia, instead of the whole foot.
Several different procedures may be performed on a hammertoe. These may include:
- Shifting and straightening of tendons.
- Cutting ligaments and tendons to straighten the toe itself.
- Fusing the joint to reduce pain.
After some recovery time, similar to a bunion surgery, you should be able to go home. It should be noted that, in the case of either form of surgery, you will not be able to drive yourself anywhere afterward.
What Should I Expect from Recovery?
The specifics of recovery will vary from case to case.
In very general terms, however, recovery from bunion surgery ill usually take about 6-8 weeks. This is the time when you can likely start walking without a boot or other items. Full recovery, however—which is when all swelling should go down—may take up to 6 months.
For hammertoe surgery, general recovery can take about 6 weeks, while a full recovery may take 6 months to a year.
In both cases, there will be a period of time when you will need to keep weight off your foot as much as possible. Pre-planning before your surgery is essential to making sure you stay comfortable and have everything you need during this time.
In many cases, as you recover, physical therapy may be recommended to condition and strengthen the foot, helping you regain and maintain full mobility. We will also provide additional advice regarding lifestyle habits, footwear, and other matters as they may pertain to your personal recovery.
Surgery is Not Something to Fear
If surgery for a bunion or a hammertoe is something you wish to pursue, we will do all we can to make sure you know everything about your procedure before going in, and allow you to make the best decisions regarding your health moving forward.
Regardless of whether surgical or non-surgical recommendations are in your future, though, there is always something you can do to help yourself find more comfort from the symptoms of a foot deformity. We would be happy to discuss these matters further with you. Just give us a call to schedule an appointment at either of our two area offices:
- George Dieter Drive: (915) 856-3331
- Curie Drive: (915) 533-5151
If you prefer to contact us electronically, you may also fill out our online contact form at any time. A member of our office will respond to you during our standard office hours.