Question from Diane: I will have bunion surgery on Friday on my left foot. It’s had problems of blisters and pain. The right is not as bad. So I planned on just repairing the left first. Please give me some tips on preventing the next surgery or should I just have it done at the same time?
Smiling Walker: I wish I had all the answers for you. Here’s my experience and what I learned:
Both my surgeon and 2nd opinion doctor advised against both feet at the same time. Both have done surgeries on people who had both feet done. I have spoken to four women who had both feet done at the same time.
Woman #1, a good friend, said it wasn’t a problem physically. She just shuffled on crutches at her job (she’s a teacher) for several weeks. She was married at the time with two preteens and said she got little help from the family, which made it difficult. She also only had problems with the big toe bunions.
Woman #2 said she was a busy, active woman with two teenage children and a husband and couldn’t waste the time off her feet doing one foot at a time. She demanded her doctor do both or she’d find another doctor. He did it. She said she slid on her butt in the house for a month and crawled with her feet up for a few weeks after that, but then it was over and she was back on her feet running (literally – she is a runner). She said it helped that her children waited on her or she would have been left to the dogs. It’s been two years and she says her feet are not “big boob” pretty, but they work.
Woman #3 (#2’s sister) is also a busy woman, but single. Her experience was very painful and difficult. She attributes this to not having the support system to help her while she was recovering. She recommends one foot at time to anyone who asks.
Woman #4 is a mom of three boys now, but was single at the time she had her bunions removed. She said her fiancé did everything for her for a month. She didn’t walk on her feet the entire time except to go the bathroom, and like #2, she crawled with feet up. She said it was really hard to follow instructions, but she did. It’s been 20 years and she has had no problems. She, like Woman #2, is very active – a fitness trainer.
She also said that she did weekly physical therapy recommended by her doctor (mine didn’t recommend this, which I found odd) and felt that helped her tremendously.
I considered doing both feet because of the time factor, but talked myself out of double foot surgery for several reasons and only did my right foot, which was causing a lot of pain.
- I am single and a self-employed professional speaker who is on my feet for hours at a time, I didn’t have the financial or social support to be off my feet for 4-6 weeks or the extra downtime if I had complications.
- Because both docs were so against double foot surgery, I decided there must be something to that. They both said I needed the other foot for balance and walking and without it if there were problems, I’d have more complications. After the cynic in me thought they might just want more business, I decided I’d rather have a happy surgeon cutting on my foot than someone who was energetically stressing because I might not follow post-recovery protocol and end up with complications that could affect their business.
- I didn’t have pain in my left foot and the docs had said to use surgery as a last resort. This made sense to me because technology is changing so quickly so who knows what new techniques they could have in the next decade.
- I met several alternative healers who said that with exercise and focused visualization I could at the very least prevent the left foot from getting worse and at best, perhaps even reverse the bunion. (That fell in the miracle category for me, but I’m open. <smiling>
In retrospect, post surgery, I made the right decision for me to do one foot at a time. I should also mention that I had two “procedures” on my right foot – bunion surgery and hammertoe surgery on the 2nd toe, because I let things go too long (I didn’t know I should have seen a podiatrist in my teens. I’ve had complications with my right foot that I’ve addressed on my blog.
Regarding preventing the next surgery, what I’ve learned is that podiatrist-fitted orthotics (range $250-$600) can, in some cases, prevent bunions from getting worse, so that could be a good option. I’m guessing your doctor will recommend them. I have them now and while I’m noticing slightly less pain on the pad of my right foot, there is still pain. Also, I’m flat footed and do notice arch support and that my ankles are not caving inside (called pronating) as much when I walk.
I’m not sure what you should do, nor would I tell you since I’m not a doctor, however, I do believe you already know the answer for yourself.
One of the ideas I’m working with when I don’t know what to do is to choose conscious non-action and ask for a clear answer in my meditations, which eventually comes, sometimes only at the moment when I’m forced to make a choice. I also ask my foot (or whatever body part is in pain) what it wants. May sound crazy, but that dialogue has connected me more with my body and healing.
Best wishes on a successful surgery!