Bunion Surgery Recovery One Foot at a Time

Photo: The Aircast is a life-saver. Two weeks post bunion surgery on my left foot. Right foot is next. 

There are so many bunion post-surgery and recovery details that I didn’t think of until after the fact. Here are 12 tips I’ve learned to make it easier for you to successfully recover from bunion surgery:

1.  GET A HANDICAP PASS. Went out to get the mail and lunch today. I wish I’d gotten a handicap pass. Not sure where to apply for one, but will look into it. (So many details you don’t think about until after the fact.)

2.  WEAR YOUR WALKING CAST BOOT EVEN IF YOU FEEL GREAT. Drove to the post office. Wore my driving boot to the car and in the car and the “Aircast” boot, which looks like a (very) big ski boot, into the post office and to the restaurant. What a difference that walking cast makes! It’s tight but I feel secure in it and there’s only a little aching after about 15-20 minutes, which is my sign to get my leg up, which I do.

3.  ARRANGE FOR AN AUTOMATIC SHIFT CAR IF YOU HAVE A STICK SHIFT. Today I stopped at the beach after a quick Mexican lunch (is that an oxymoron?) at Roberto’s. I reclined in the car (thanks Kim for exchanging cars so I could drive an automatic shift), put my foot up across the center dash board and took a 1/2 hour siesta. I get tired easily still, so even though I so want to be out in the world, I come home, put my leg up and rest. Napping is good.

4.  ICE, ICE, ICE AND TAKE ARNICA. No noticeable swelling beyond what I originally experienced the first day. Bruising is intensifying on the sole of my foot. The bandage is covering the top, however, my 3rd, 4th, and 5th toes are slightly yellow and blue. I wonder what it would have been like if I hadn’t iced and taken the Arnica Montana homeopathic remedy (thanks Mimi for the reminder not to touch the pills) every day since surgery?

5.  WEAR YOUR BOOT AT NIGHT IN CASE YOU FORGET YOU JUST HAD SURGERY AND GET UP TOO QUICKLY. I sleep with the blue driving boot on at night just in case I wake up and need to move quickly, but during the day, I keep my foot unbooted and propped on a long couch pillow from thigh to toe either on the bed or couch . Works great.

6.  PUT PRESSURE ON YOUR HEEL. I walk from my bed or couch to the bathroom without the boot on and with most pressure on my heel. I’m only walking about 10 feet, and since I’m not feeling pain, I imagine I’m helping my foot heal with the slight movement, although I do wonder if the bone might be moving when I walk but that screw is supposed to make it seamlessly tight. I guess I’ll find out with next x-ray.

7.  ANKLE ROLLS FOR CIRCULATION. I exercise my foot with ankle rolls – 10x each way on the hour. As well, I wiggle my toes and flex my feet back and forth. It feels really good to do that. Sometimes it feels like my foot is falling asleep so the movement seems very important to keep circulation moving.

8.  EXERCISE WHILE YOU’RE HEALING. I’m exercising lightly doing leg lifts, crunches, bike pedals, and modified push ups on my knees – 10 to 20 of each. Read yesterday that the body heals faster with exercise.

9.  MOOD SWINGS MEAN ASK FOR MORE EMOTIONAL SUPPORT. My mood wavers up and down. Being single and living alone with most friends at least 30-40 minutes away makes it lonely for me. Thank God I had 4 days at Lorna’s in the beginning and now the phone, my laptop, an internet connection and the hummingbirds that feed outside my window every few minutes.

10.  BE GRATEFUL AND VISUALIZE WALKING. When I feel low, I get grateful for my new foot and all the kind people and goodness that surrounds me and I think a lot about walking again in 3 weeks and how good that will feel. That excites me!

11.  DON’T MESS WITH YOUR BANDAGES. This one is tough! My next appointment is next Monday. I wish I could change the bandage now. My 2nd toe incision was still bleeding a bit when they redid the bandage 3 days after surgery so the bandage looks nasty. But all seems well along the edges and I’m not showing any signs of infection.

12.  FASTER BONE HEALING? I’m told bone heals in 6-8 weeks and today I read that toe bones heal faster with screws in it. I wonder if that’s similar to baked potatoes that cook faster with nails pushed through the middle from end to end the long way? 🙂 Whatever the case, feet are amazing and healing energy is a miracle. Go feet!

Are aching feet keeping you from logging the miles you want? Seventy percent of women have a bunion, hammertoe, or other foot problem that can become uncomfortable enough to hobble any fitness walker. <more>

This is a great article with three foot exercises you’ll definitely want to try. While my right foot is healing, I can do these on my left foot. Who knows, maybe it will prevent bunion surgery on my left foot.

The author of the article, Maggie Spilner is a great resource and inspiration for walking and foot care. I had the pleasure of meeting her when we were both speaking on a cruiseship (and went through a hurricane together).
One thing I’ve learned from this bunion surgery is the importance of exercising your feet and caring for them in the same way you do your face, hands, or any other part of your body. What’s amazing to me now, after learning so much about bunions and foot care is how little attention most people pay to their feet and all the beautiful gifts our feet give us in the way of living a full life.

I realize now that if I’d gotten myself to a podiatrist years ago when my feet started aching, maybe I could have prevented surgery. Don’t make the same mistakes I have; if your feet hurt, get them checked out and do these basic exercises in this article every day and save your feet.

Learn more about bunion exercises in my ebook, Bunion Survivor’s Guide to Bunion Surgery and Bunion Surgery Recovery.