Question from Diane: I’m told I’ll be off work for a 1 week, then sitting at work for 2 weeks. What is the actual recovery time? My job is marketing at a hospital for a nursing home. A lot of walking. I’m very active.
Answer from Smiling Walker: Recovery time, from everyone I’ve talked with, as cliché as it sounds, is different for everyone, but within a range. My surgeon said 4-6 weeks before you’re walking without effort, and my 2nd opinion doctor said 6-8 weeks before full pressure on your foot and up to 1 year before the foot resolves into its new pattern.
I can tell you this, I pushed the envelope with walking, and I’m paying the price. My doctor said if I followed his rules exactly, I’d have no problems. I’ve had problems with slow healing and more swelling than normal, which they’re attributing to too much time on my feet too soon. I gradually built up from the 10 minutes per hour the first week to 20 minutes the second week, and in the third week, I felt so good I went out for a one hour walk (very slowly) and I think that’s when I may have created more inflammation and slowed the bone growth.
Inflammation is a big concern with healing, and that can show up as redness, swelling, but more curiously to me, as heat on the foot. The idea is to keep the foot cool and quiet. If I were to do it over, I’d have spent less time walking around and more time with my foot elevated those first three weeks. My concern was losing cardiovascular strength while laying around. Now I know that I could have done upper body and core exercises while keeping my feet quiet (but part of me was relieved not to feel compelled to exercise during that time. Rest is good.
It’s challenging because you’ll feel fine and your foot is so tightly bound and the screw is holding things in place that you think you can run a marathon (well, not quite, but you’ll understand once you’re in recovery).
When I went back for my 2 month checkup, I compared feet with women in the waiting room. One woman had no pain, was in a tennis shoe and was walking normally at six weeks. I was still very swollen and experiencing pain, but again, had two procedures, while she had only one. Another woman was back in for a second surgery on the same foot from three years earlier with a different doctor because the bunion had grown back and she was still feeling pain.
I’ve learned a lot since deciding on bunion surgery and one thing I can tell you for sure is that the foot is an amazing gift that I overlooked for too long and a much more complex living organism than I ever anticipated that affects EVERYTHING you do.
If this insight was helpful to you, I’d love to know how it helped you. And do let me know what you decide, how the surgery goes, and if you have more questions, be sure to email me.
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