SPECIAL BUNION HEALTH REPORT

Consider these 5 Recommendations to Follow Before Your First Appointment with a Bunion Surgeon

After meeting with my podiatrist and interviewing several readers about their experience, here are five of the most important rules to follow before your first appointment.

1.  Make decisions for the right reasons. Long-term health first. Then best time. Then money. I realized that I was letting my financial/time constraints make my decision and keep me from seeking a 2nd and 3rd opinion. I had reservations about moving forward so quickly within just a few weeks with only one doctor’s perspective, but I told myself I had to do it “now” because the pain in my foot was getting worse, I had a limited window of time, and spending extra money on 2nd and 3rd opinions wasn’t necessary. Live and learn. But now you don’t have to because you can learn from my mistakes and lessons learned as well as my good choices.

It’s your health and your feet that you’ll live with for the rest of your life, not a car or a house that you can trade up or sell. When I make the decision again, I will choose for my long-term health first, then time, then money.

Rather than stress yourself out by waiting until the last minute, work backwards from your best outcome (healthy feet as you grow older and time to enjoy your life). Plan ahead for how much time off and how much money you will need for surgery and recovery time and create a savings account just for that “project” so you make your decisions for the right reasons.

2.  Give yourself extra preparation time. How much time have you allowed yourself to do your research and make a decision? The last thing you want to do is feel like you’re making a rushed decision (like I did) and then end up wishing you done things differently after your surgery.

Take your time researching. I recommend the following:

  • Month 1:

o   Research and read about bunion surgery and doctors. Ask for referrals from friends.

o   Plan the best time for your surgery

  • Month 2:

o   Interview three doctors. Include a podiatrist and an orthopedic surgeon.

o   Be sure that each one isn’t recommended by the previous doctors you’ve seen.

o   Ask them how far ahead you need to schedule surgery so that it fits in your best time window.

  • Month 3:

o   Choose your doctor based on how confident and safe you felt with their answers to the questions you’ve asked.

o   Call the doctor’s office and give the scheduling team your best surgery date options. Remember it’s your life you’re working around first, then your doctor’s schedule.

3.  Do your homework. Answer these questions before you make your first appointment:

  • Who have you gotten your referrals from? If you used the Internet or Yellow Pages, promise me that you will not schedule surgery with that surgeon until you have talked with at least 3, preferably 5 of his clients. I know it’s an inconvenience to ask but this is your body, your mobility, and the rest of your life you’re making a decision about. Be conscious and protective of yourself.
  • How much research have you done online watching videos and looking at different doctor’s websites?
  • What do you know about your doctor’s success rate? If the doctor you’re considering doesn’t have a website, can you “drop by” to get a feel for their office environment? Are you keeping notes on each doctor you’ve been referred to?
  • Ask questions. Write out your questions and ask other bunion survivors what questions they wished they’d asked their doctor before surgery. Take your list of questions with you to each appointment and check off each question as you ask it and get an answer.
  • If your doctor pressures you into making a quick decision or makes you feel uneasy, take a deep breath, and sleep on it. You want to make your decision based on your needs and schedule, as much as when the surgery suite is available or when your doctor is taking a vacation.

 4.  Take the time to look for a doctor in your immediate area before you sign on with one from out of town. I found my surgeon by doing what you and a lot of people are doing now – searching the internet for information. His online infomercial followed by his high tech in-person presentation, his obvious perfectionism and the testimony from three women in the waiting room who said he’d been their 2nd or 3rd opinion was so compelling.

I wasn’t motivated to do more research than make two last-minute calls to other doctors, both of whom I was told by their receptionists couldn’t see me until after my surgery date was scheduled for this doctor, hence why I suggest starting your research 3-6 months in advance of your surgery window. Having options builds confidence.

I drove 90 minutes one way to go to my surgeon because of his excellent reputation and because I had two time windows I was working with – my business slow time which is summer and my insurance deductible for the year – I chose his reputation for excellence over more research to find someone comparable in my city because I hadn’t planned enough ahead of time. As I learned after the fact, there are several competent doctors in my city and had I used any one of them, I would have saved hundreds of dollars in gas, hours of stressful driving time, and had more people to help me in my immediate community.

If you live in a rural area and/or can’t find a doctor you resonate with in your city, by all means, if you can afford the time and extra expense, and have a caregiver who can support you, it doesn’t matter where they are located. But if time, money and/or support are key factors, give yourself 3-6 months of planning time for your surgery so you can make the decision from strength rather than stress.

5.  Always have a Plan B for everything, especially your 24-hours-after-surgery-person, especially if you’re single. As soon as I knew my surgery date, I contacted a friend who confirmed she was available to take me to the surgical center and could be my caregiver for 24 hours after. We locked in the dates on our calendars and I relaxed, grateful for her and to have plans taken care of. Four days before surgery I called to reconfirm the details of my plans with her. She said that a day earlier she was offered consulting work (she’s self-employed)and  that she wouldn’t be able to help me. Panic set in. I scrambled, called other people and no one was available. I assumed I’d have to cancel my surgery. This is not what you want a few days before surgery. Have a Plan B strategy and person.

Fortunately, because my friend is incredibly creative and caring, she heard my concern, called me back and came up with a new plan. She’d pick me up, drop me off at the surgical center, get her nails done while waiting, return to pick me up and we go a day early to the hotel she was staying at during her consulting project. I would stay in her room, with room service and housekeepers to check on me. It turned out amazingly well, however, if that hadn’t worked out I would have had to cancel my surgery because as a single self-employed person with no children or family in town and working from a home office, I had no one else to care for me at the last minute.

If I had it to do over again, I would have done more research, and more importantly, I would have gone to a podiatrist at the first sign of pain and twisting toes, not waited the two years I did to take action. It would have saved me surgery on my second toe and all the complications that have come with that. Take care of your feet. You’re worth it.

ATTENTION

These 5 key actions are just the beginning.
If you found this report helpful, keep reading, keep asking questions,
and take action before you experience more pain.

Plan ahead and get the answers you need and deserve before you need them. 
I’ve done the footwork for you.

Order the 160-page ebook  today
Bunion Survivor’s Guide to Successful Bunion Surgery and Recovery
and receive the following additional checklists and reports for free:

  • Weekly and Monthly Bunion Surgery and Recovery Planning Checklist for steps to take before and after your surgery to keep you stress-free, relaxed, and comfortable. (This checklist alone is worth the price of your first doctor’s appointment.)
  • 25 Critical Questions to Ask Your Podiatrist or Orthopedic Surgeon Before You Schedule Bunion Surgery
  • 10 Powerful Tips for a Successful  First Meeting with Your Bunion Doctor

Reg $27    $9.95

Mary, your book is a life saver.
Can’t imagine how I would have had courage
to go forward with surgery without your book.”
~ Virginia R. ~

Bunion Survivor's Guide to Bunion Surgery & Recovery

Bunion Survivor’s Guide to Successful Bunion Surgery and Recovery ebook includes:

* Preparation checklists for before and after bunion surgery to reduce stress and make life easier for you

* Guidelines to select the right surgeon for you

* 3 critical questions to ask your doctor that most people won’t think to ask or are too afraid to ask, but make all the difference in a successful surgeon and surgery (this alone is worth the price of the book and your insurance premium and deductible combined!)

* Over 100 recovery tips, shoes brands and styles, and bunion relief resources with website links

* An instantly downloadable ebook that you can read online or print out and read at your convenience on the couch, in bed, while you’re waiting at your doctor’s office.

Learn more at Bunion Survivor’s Guide to Successful Bunion Surgery and Recovery.

Mary

PS. If you’re still living with bunion pain and are still afraid of surgery, this ebook can help you make the right decision for you at the right time with the right doctor. Be good to yourself. You and your feet are worth it.

“Oh, Mary, thanks for being such a delight.
I have passed word around to others to purchase your ebook before surgery. My new left foot is a miracle. Sept. 24 was surgery, and having such a successful surgery is a dream that came true.”
~ Virginia R. ~

Bunion Survivor’s Guide to Successful Bunion Surgery and Recovery

This site does not offer personal medical advice and is solely informational in nature.

If you’ve ever wondered about whether your bunion might be causing other physical problems, here’s why it’s so important to not ignore your bunion pain: The Metro UK and  The Daily Mail Online reports that British marathon runner Paula Radcliffe, an Olympic hopeful for 2012, had bunion surgery because of the injuries she incurred by pushing through her bunion pain.

After suffering from a series of injuries including a hernia in 2004 and neuroma in 2005, culminating in a fractured toe and the stress fracture of her femur (thigh bone) in 2008, Paula finally decided to consult podiatric surgeon Dr Amol Saxena, who works at California’s Palo Alto Medical Foundation’s Sports Medicine Department. Dr Saxena concluded that the bunion caused Paula’s injuries, and that her style of running had changed to accommodate it. This in turn affected her gait and put additional strain on her body. >>

This story really resonated with me because of the lower back pain I’ve dealt with since my surgery.

Take care of your feet. See a podiatrist before you need surgery. Don’t wait like Paula and I did and pay the price we have with other complications.  And while you’re at it, find out everything you need to know about bunion surgery before you need it by reading my new ebook, “Bunion Survivor’s Guide to Successful Bunion Surgery.” Thanks for reading.

Have you had or do you have any back pain along with your bunions? Please comment below if you have.

I’ve wondered if the occasional lower back pain and sciatica that became chronic a few months after bunion surgery on my right foot and continues today is connected to the misalignment of my feet. All the doctors I’ve seen say it’s not but I’m not so sure.

A friend shared the book Healing Back Pain by John Sarno, MD, which I started reading today. Sarno says that most back pain (and many other muscular, organ, and immune system issues) can be attributed to TMS (Tension Myositis Syndrome), which he defines as a psychosomatic issue that becomes physical as a way to hide negative emotions from your conscious mind, in particular repressed anger, because you’re not ready to or think you can’t handle the pain.

Interesting idea and even more interesting when I consider the possibility that maybe I’m subconsciously angry that I have bunions and felt I had no option but to have surgery to get rid of the pain (that and every other transgression from childhood :-). Hmmm…and the solution, Dr. Sarno? Recognize the anger, find a healthy way to express repressed emotions, keep moving your body, and in 98% of situations the pain will subside.

What’s your experience with bunions and back pain? Have you read Dr. Sarno’s book yet?

Click on the photo to learn more about the book Healing Back Pain by Dr. John Sarno

Did you know there are over 100 types of bunion surgery?! Now, maybe you’ll understand why I’ve hedged about defining different surgeries on the Bunion Relief Blog — the possibility of error in description is better left to your surgeon. However, I just ran across a good overview of the general types of bunion surgery in an article on bunion surgery published by Blue Shield of California.

“There are over 100 surgeries for bunions. Research does not indicate which type of surgery is best—surgery needs to be specific to your condition. More than one procedure may be done at the same time.

“The general types of bunion surgery are:

  • Removal of part of the metatarsal head (the part of the foot that is bulging out). This procedure is called exostectomy or bunionectomy.
  • Realignment of the soft tissues (ligaments) around the big toe joint.
  • Removal of a small wedge of bone from the foot (metatarsal osteotomy) or from the toe (phalangeal osteotomy).
  • Removal of bone from the end of the first metatarsal bone, which joins with the base of the big toe (metatarsophalangeal joint). At the metatarsophalangeal joint, both the big toe and metatarsal bones are reshaped (resection arthroplasty).
  • Fusion (arthrodesis) of the big toe joint.
  • Fusion of the joint where the metatarsal bone joins the mid-foot (Lapidus procedure).
  • Implant insertion of all or part of an artificial joint.”
  • Read more

Whatever type of surgery you and your surgeon determine is best for you, you want a surgeon who has experience in a variety of procedures, which ensures you’ll get the best option from a surgeon who is selecting from several choices rather than one-procedure-fits-all.

Be sure to ask:

1. What different types of bunion surgery procedures have you done in the past six months?

2. How many of the procedure you’re recommending for me have you done in the past month? Past six months?

I don’t know about you, but I want a surgeon who has performed the surgery they’re suggesting dozens of times with excellent results before experimenting or perfecting their skill on me.

If you’ve had this conversation with your doctor, I’m curious to know what you discovered. Please share your comments below and if you know the specific procedure they’re recommending or that you’ve had done, please let us know.

If you’re worried about having bunion surgery, what about experimenting beforehand with a fish-eating pedicure? No, not eating fish while having a pedicure; having a pedicure where fish actually eat away the dead skin on your feet. Maybe they’ll eat away the bunion too. It can’t be any worse than trying honey and turmeric to dissolve bunions I’ve heard mention of, can it?

Before you think I’ve gone off the deep end (haha, into a pool of dead-skin eating fish — not!), just know that as you look for answers and treatment regarding your bunions, two of your most important daily treatments are feeding your sense of humor and taking stress-relief actions.

It’s so easy to feel frustrated, depressed, and hopeless when you’re feeling bunion pain and exploring bunion treatment options or recovering from bunion surgery. It’s also easy, when you train your mind, to gift yourself with moments of humor and stress relief on the journey.

Read this story and watch the short video and it’s guaranteed to make you laugh, and if you’re game and visit this Alexandria, Virginia foot spa, a few fish to your feet.

Read more on Fish Pedicures in USA Today.

2016 Update: Fish pedicures have been banned in California and other areas. Buyer beware. Read more.

I know I’ve worn shoes that are too narrow, but what I didn’t know and just learned is that shoes should have an INCH of extra space at the tip of the toe. I always thought it was a half-inch for extra comfort and an inch made them too big.

Here are some other interesting facts pointed out in an article “If the Shoe Fits” in the October 3 issue Aurora Healthcare’s Women’s Health Newsletter.”

* 90% of us are wearing shoes that are too narrow, according to physicians at UCLA who examined 356 women. Ill-fitting shoes had created bunions, hammer toes, pinched nerves, heel pain, or ingrown toenails in 70% of the study group.

* Even with normal aging, feet widen and flatten, the fat padding on the sole of the foot wears down, and skin gets dryer.

They offer 5 excellent tips for buying shoes for bunion relief and all-around foot comfort.

  • Replace or repair shoes as soon as the heel starts to show wear.[My father always had metal cleats added to our new shoes when we were kids. A common phrase in our house was “stop dragging your feet, you’ll wear out your shoes too soon.”]
  • Buy new shoes at the end of the day (your feet are larger) and have your feet measured first – don’t assume you wear the same size shoe you did when you were younger. Always try on both shoes and buy for the larger foot (they’re rarely the same size).
  • Don’t buy shoes that need a break-in period; shoes should be comfortable immediately.[Makes so much sense, but I’ve been fooled by this one. I’m so grateful for Nordstrom’s return policy.]
  • Don’t wear the same shoes every day; if you’re diabetic, change several times a day.
  • In general, the best shoes are well cushioned with a firm sole and soft upper. They should be flexible at the front and at the ball of the foot, and strong and supportive but not too stiff in the heel area.
  • There should be an inch of space between the longest toe and the tip of the shoe, and you should be able to wiggle your toes. (I’ll be wearing women’s size 13’s if I do this!!! I wonder if they’ll start making bigger shoes with smaller sizes like they do clothing?)

A survey by the American Podiatric Medical Association, reported by The Clarion-Ledger, found that 73 percent of women have a shoe-related foot problem. Forty-two percent of women admitted they would wear a shoe that was uncomfortable. Okay, so the report was done by people in the business of fixing feet, but that’s still a lot of women!

It’s been nine months since my bunion surgery and I just bought three new pairs of shoes – all sandals, two pair with 1 1/2 inch heels and one pair with 2 1/2 inch heels, a heel height I haven’t worn in over a decade.

All the shoes have slight annoyances that border on almost uncomfortable enough to take back, but I’m hoping that a few more wearings will break them in and the leather will stretch enough to accommodate my feet, not the other way around.

Thank goodness I was smart enough to look for 1/4 inch rubber bottomed soles, which Naturalizer and Lifestride make, and add an adhesive gel padding to the insole for more comfort.

The extra padding is better than nothing, but the gel rolls up at the edges and becomes sticky on your feet, which requires reflattening every time you wear the shoes, and which my toes try to adjust when I’m sitting in meetings. Ten dollars at Famous Footwear.

Save your money and buy thicker soled shoes or use the gel-rolling as exercise for nervous toes that are hoping you’ll choose shoes with arch support, a lower heel, and a wide toe box.

I just found an excellent overview of the major reasons for bunion surgery, the risks of bunion surgery (I have experienced all of them but an infection) and what to expect before, during, and after bunion surgery from the Anne Arundel Medical Center. Based on my personal experience, this information is the most accurate I have run across.

Here’s a list of the risks of bunion surgery:

As with any surgical procedure, complications can occur. Some possible complications may include, but are not limited to:

  • stiffness
  • numbness
  • swelling
  • delayed healing
  • infection

Other complications may include recurrence of the bunion, nerve damage, and continued pain. The surgery may also result in over-correction of the problem, in which the big toe extends away from the other toes.

There may be other risks depending upon your specific medical condition. Be sure to discuss any concerns with your physician prior to the procedure.

I’m sitting in the waiting room at my car service center (Acura Kearny Mesa in San Diego – they’re great! They even provide free wireless service!) waiting for the news about whether my right rear brake needs to be repaired (interesting – I wonder if there’s any metaphor here – my right foot is my bunion surgery foot that needs to be repaired again.

The latest issue of Vogue was calling to me from the coffee table so I picked it up and lo and behold, I opened to a page (p. 420) for a $15 discount on Yoga Toes if you use the coupon code VOG at www.yogapro.com or call 1-800-488-8414. This is great news for you! If you haven’t tried this product, you will LOVE it!

You may remember me telling you in a previous post or two how much I LOVE these toe muscle stretchers. I use them at the end of the day, I use them when I meditate, and I take them with me when I travel. They’ve really helped manage the post-surgery pain on my right foot and relieve aching on my left foot after a full day of standing and walking.

Love your feet; they’ll take you anywhere you want.

For more bunion surgery recovery resources, check out
Bunion Survivor’s Guide to Successful Bunion Surgery & Recovery