Post-bunion surgery part 3

I had surgery on 25th September on the NHS for a bunion on my right foot – a scarf and akin osteotomy. I’m documenting my rehabilitation.  Well it keeps me occupied. It’s 18 days since my surgery now. I’m continuing to improve, but do have painful moments. On Sunday I woke up and my foot was very sore. I vaguely remember having some kind of toe spasm in the night when I was asleep, or maybe I got my big toe caught in the blankets, I’m not sure, but that morning it was quite sore and remained sore all day.  Walking to the loo and back was quite painful.  I took some paracetomol and stayed in bed. Fortunately I had some Tramadol left, so was able to take one later on that evening to help me sleep. Next morning it felt comfortable again and the swelling felt like it had gone down again.

I’m still moving around using my bunion boot. Every time I get up I have to put it on – even just to move a few feet to the toilet. I’m sitting at my laptop and am able to do a bit of work from home, although I’m still officially off sick. It’s good to sit up for a bit although I do make sure I lie down and elevate the foot. This reduces the swelling and any discomfort that can arise from that.

One thing I have noticed is that I’m putting on weight. Not surprising really because I’m not moving around very much. I do have some small dumbells near my bed and I try and do leg exercises to keep the circulation going.

Dumbells near my foot

Foot, dumbells and socks!

It kind of gets me down a bit to think of how unfit and wobbly I’m becoming but there’s not much I can do about it while I heal. I knew this would be a long haul with 6 weeks off work and a lot of patience required. On the whole I’m doing really well, but do get occasional pockets of frustration and counting the days.

My appointment at the clinic to get my bandage changed is on Thursday afternoon. I was supposed to go in two weeks after my surgery but they didn’t have any free appointments *rolls eyes*. I phoned the nurse at the ward where I had my op and she said that would be fine, there’s was nothing to worry about from a clinical point of view. Well, that’s ok then. Just as well.  I’m looking forward to the appointment to get the dressing changed because it will be a milestone on the road to recovery, but I have to admit to being a little bit nervous. I’ll see my foot for the first time since the op — and I hope it doesn’ t hurt! The stitches are dissolvable so at least I don’t need to have them out as well. I’m a wimp, I know.

I wonder how people cope if they have a bi-lateral scarf and akin procedure. I can’ t imagine how hard it must be to have both feet done at once. How on earth do you move around to get to the loo!

My carers (mum and dad) have escaped to Ilford today to go shopping and probably give themselves a break (from me!). I was fine until I started to feel cold. The window in the toilet had been left open (not normally a problem but it’s chilly today) so as I can’t reach it, I tried to close it with the end of a broom. The knob thing at the end just came off. I managed to get it back on the broom again, and then had another go with the furry end of the broom. That worked better, window now closed. Also managed to drag the heater into my room and get it plugged in. Feel better now I’ve got some heat. It’s tricky when you can’t move around very much to warm yourself up, you tend to feel the cold more.


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42 Responses to Post-bunion surgery part 3

  1. Pingback: Post-bunion surgery part 3 « Swirlingleaf | Pain On Foot

  2. Pingback: 2010 in review « Swirlingleaf

  3. Hi, I’m just reading your blog now, as I’m on day four after a bilateral bunionectomy with oseotomy. Holy batballs! The pain. I am on the last of my really strong painkillers and dreading tomorrow with ‘just’ ibuprofen. I’m in two of those ridiculous ‘boots’ and using crutches to get the three metres from my bed to the loo. I can’t wait to get these bandages off next week (six days time), but I also dread what’s under them!!

    I hope you’re doing well now.

    PS I like your sock!

  4. My surgery date is coming up on April 19th for bilateral bunion surgery. How do you manage with crutches. I was thinking a walker would be easier.

  5. Hey Joanna, good luck with your surgery. Actually I preferred crutches, because after the first four days I could use only one (and manage to carry a cup of tea in my free hand) – my left foot is healing faster than the right (I hear this is surprisingly common), so I only really now need the support for my right foot. I’m using the elbow crutches (as in, they come up to your elbows) and have found that they are quite easy to use.

    Prepare yourself for the first time you put your feet down to the floor after surgery. The feeling of the blood rushing back into your feet is awful. Put those babies straight back up on the bed and try again in 30 minutes. You’ll be surprised that you’ll be able to negotiate stairs on your first day after the operation – I’m writing up my recovery over on my blog – if you’re interested in following my journey.

    I think it’s great people like Swirlingleaf are writing up their stories – she has inspired me to write mine up – it really helps to know that other people are going through similar challenges and see how they manage it!

    Good luck with your surgery – I’m thinking about how great it’s going to be in six months time to be able to walk around ‘normally’ without that dreadful toe pain!

    Cheers, Lily

  6. Thank you VERY MUCH, Lily for the info you sent! It is so interesting to me to learn all this and be prepared….and i will look up your blog. I am astonished that the possibility exists that i can even do stairs. Also, I will get myself some crutches now that i read your experience.
    Best wishes for your speedy recovery. We’ll keep in touch!

  7. swirlingleaf says:

    Hi Lily, sorry for delay in response, I’ve been busy elsewhere (writing essays!). How are you getting on now? Going to the loo was a big expedition as I recall, and I had only had ONE foot done! Thanks re the sock, I’ve had a few admiring comments. Best wishes, Julia (like your blog/website by the way).

  8. Hi Julia, thanks for stopping by my blog too. Sisters in new toes! Cheers, Lily

  9. swirlingleaf says:

    Hi Lily, I’ve put a link in my blogroll 🙂

  10. Gemma Short says:

    Hi I too have had a bilateral scarf and akin osteotomy, I’m day six post surgery and cannot believe how well and painfree I feel. My feet are in casts and I wait to be reviewed in two weeks time and hopefully have the casts removed as to be honest they’re awkward to move in. I’ve also taken Arnica tablets to bring out the bruising and the black toes that once were have almost completely returned to normal. I continue to take regular paracetamol and voltarol and spent most of my days with feet elevated. I would like anyones advice on footwear as I’m quite conscious of what may be suitable once the casts are off! Do most people return to work 6 weeks post surgery? I really can’t bare the thought of being off any longer, the boredom has already set in! 🙂

  11. Hi Gemma, I did HEAPS of research about shoes too – I work in a highly corporate environment so was worried about shoes – and rightly so – everyone comments on my ‘funky footwear’ at the moment, but they all understand I’m confined to flats for the foreseeable future. I ended up buying some Alegria Paloma mary janes (in patent red!!), which have been fabulous. They have a rigid, rocker sole, a wide toe box and great cushioning/padding/support inside. I did buy one size up from my normal size, as my feet are still swollen around the big toe joints even 10 weeks post surgery. I also bought some Dansko clogs, but they have been terrible, as they provide no support around the heel and you have to keep them on with your toes. Ouch. I am considering buying another pair of Alegria because they’re so good. Nurses swear by them too 🙂 I have also been able to fit into several pairs of pre-surgery flats, although my swollen toe joints are preventing me from getting into most of them. Heels are still some time away – even very low ones. But it’s all worth it I reckon! Good luck with your recovery – sounds like things are tracking really well for you 🙂

  12. Gemma Short says:

    Hi Lily, well I’m 3 weeks post surgery now, casts are still on, return to the consultant next week for a review and x-rays. I’m walking around without crutches but have the special hospital shoes as obviously nothing fits over the casts! I saw my feet for the first time on Friday, the scarring looks minimal, there is no bruising and the swelling at present is non-existent. Pain is only slight now so I am just on minimal pain relief of paracetamol and ibuprofen. I really hope next week they’ll remove the casts permanently and I can drive…..boredom is overwhelming! Thanks for the shoes tips, I’ve seen the alegria online before as due to my work (midwife) we usually wear those type of shoes anyway so probably a good investment for me. I genuinelly can’ believe how well I’m getting on, I’m so glad I eventually made the decision to have the operation 🙂

  13. CJ says:

    I had my surgery on 25th April so I am now 11 weeks post op. I have been discharged and the consultant is happy but I can’t believe how much my foot still swells up and the pain in my big toe. I have had 4 sessions of physiotherapy but still find myself limping. I can’t get into any of my old shoes and I’m starting to get worried. I’m away on a cruise in 2 weeks and can see myself with my posh frocks and my mum’s old mules! Please tell me I’ll walk normally again soon.

  14. Lynette says:

    Today I had my final 9 week post op with the podiatrist and he is very pleased with my progress. The X-rays looked fine but he said the foot will still be slightly swollen for another month. I walk about two miles a day in sneakers he approved. He told me not to order shoes off the Internet and gave me the name of another shoe store. My house looks like a shoe repair store – stretchers, Branson’s measuring device etc.

    I was fortunate to have a marvellous podiatrist to whom I was referred by my primary care physician. However, I also posted as I have read so many horror stories of people who have had bunion surgery. Also people make assumptions about age. I am nearly 69, and have a really high tolerance for pain. I only take OTC pain killers – rarely. My brother tells me I’m a tough old lady. I heal very quickly as well. Of course, I am fortunate to be relatviely healthly but I work really hard at it..

    Best wishes to all for a speedy recovery

  15. Bev willows says:

    Hi there I had my op on my right foot 5days ago seems to be healing much faster than my left one which I had done last November. Still a little pain or should I say it feels like burning but I’m coping well can get up and down stairs I work as a carer so hope I’m not off to long

  16. Julie Butler says:

    Hi there, I had my right foot done yesterday. Really painful today. Only been given co-codamol for pain relief although I’ve also taken 800mg of ibuprofen as it’s not touching the pain. Haven’t been given crutches and told to heel walk but it’s just too painful so I’ve resorted to hopping around on left foot with a stick borrowed from a friend for support!! Also signed off work for six weeks but I know I’ll be bored by the end of this week!!

  17. CJ says:

    Oh god poor you. I had mine done in April and still cannot wear anything except flats. It takes time so just be patient. I had loads of physiotherapy after my 6 week check and that really helped. I needed my stick for about 6 weeks, it gave me added confidence. Remember to keep it up as much as possible. I had swelling for about 12 weeks after op!! Just to cheer you up!

  18. DT says:

    Hi, I had scarf osteotomy done on both feet 24th sept, so now 4 weeks post op. Had dressings changed at 2 wks post op and scars had not healed and where very moist, (has this happend to anyone else)?…… Had iodine strips put on wounds and re-dressed. Went back to see Dr 4 days later and big toe on left foot had started to drift bk in again 😦 so i now have to wear a splint to bring it bk out again, needless to say i am a bit dissapointed. Go back to see the Dr on 7th Nov which will be my 6 wk check up and hopefully can finallly get out of these rediculous shoes!!! The swelling has more or less gone now, an i cant wait to be able to give my feet a well deserved soak when bandages finally can be ditched!! Has anyone had to wear a splint due to big toe drifting back in? if so how long for!!!!!

  19. I am having bilateral surgery in January so it is great to find these blogs where I can read about other peoples experiences……I am more worried about the boredom of not being able to do anything for so many weeks!!!!

  20. Hi all, I believe I had akin Osteotomy done on my right foot bunion on the 29.10, just over two weeks ago on NHS, I was very scared of the surgery itself and i wont lie it hurt when i woke up, the nurse was there offering me morphine, what helped with the pain.

    Was given cocodamol 30/500 and naproxen 500mg for the swelling. First night after surgery I didn’t sleep at all, not that of the pain but after the anaesthesia, 48 hrs later I got to sleep absolutely exhausted!

    I was taking cocodamol x 2 every 4hrs and naproxen every 8 hrs 1 tablet. I suggest you bring a pad with you to hospital and write stuff down because I find it very hard to remember what to do or not to do after surgery, also I was given a pair of compression tights to wear on my other healthy foot, day and night in case of DVT. Which I found annoying at night, called the hospital to find out how long will I have to wear it for and was told until I walk normally. 🙂

    On the 8.11 I went back to hospital for a new bandage and check up, the foot looked ok, bruising on my big toe and middle toe and some swelling and a big gap between the big toe and the other toe, which I was told will fix itself once I wear normal shoes.

    Stitches were dissolvable, but nurse still had to cut them apart. Had some X-rays done and walked with one crutch and the post operative wedge shoe around the hospital.

    It was fine, now today is 16.11 and I got a lift to a supermarket to get some more painkillers, as I ran out and asked my GP for a repeat prescription. Got more cocodamol and naproxen. Had to hang around on my foot for a hour to get pharmacist to get me these and when I got back my foot was hot swollen and not happy.
    I’ve been signed off for 6 weeks and my next check up is 6.12

    Also I’ve noticed I have put on weight, was told by the nurse it’s ok to do top body sit ups as long as I put no pressure on the big toe. Keep telling myself I will start tomorrow everyday 🙂

    Overall I have to say what I found hard was to remember to put the wedge postoperative shoe on in the middle of night when needing the loo, on one occasion I forgot and walked without it until the pain hit me.

    I have still the other foot left foot to do and am planning to get it done in 2014 January, they say right foot 6 weeks not driving, left foot 8 weeks!

    Will keep you posted and please ask me any questions, as I’m bored I will be happy to help, btw I’m 34 and had bunions since I was 13! Thanks to my nan. 🙂


  21. Jen says:

    I’m a week post op on right foot. Very disappointed with the lack of information from the NHS hospital regarding recovery. I was discharged with crutches and the boot but not shwon how to use either with the result that I had the crutches back to front for the first day and only found the slanted heel of th boot after several days!

    My pain at day 3 was pretty bad and the mixture of Tramdol, Ibuprofen and Paracetamol didnt seem to take the edge off. Fortunately that subsided quickly and my biggest issue now is the discomfort from the bandage which feel tight and is rubbing the front of my foot. A week until I get it changed and the scissors look very tempting.

    I’m pretty mobile now but slow with the boot and so resort to the crutches for longer distances and for speed. I’ve been back at work for 3 days (desk job with leg elevated) and even been on public transport.

    Big toe looks straight but slightly over rotated. I wasn’t advised that I would have a pin in the second toe to corrcet the hammer toe and this will set back my recovery to the full 6 weeks without driving. If I had known this it would have impacted my decision to go ahead as I am self employed.

  22. Jen says:

    Found out yesterday that my 2 week post op check won’t actually happen until 3 weeks which is really annoying. I feel really let down by the NHS. When I asked for information on the recovery I was told to look it up on the internet. I wasn’t properly informed about the actual procedure and felt like I was just an inconvenience when I was actually on the ward – albeit I was only there for 5 hours.

    I know that for the Hospital staff this is a minor routine operation but for me it’s the biggest thing in my life right now and it’s important to me.

    Have any of you out there reading this blog had similar/better experiences?

  23. Jean says:

    Hi Jen

    I could not fault my consultant, when I first went to see him he explained in detail what the op entailed, and even drew a diagram; he also asked, how much pain are you getting from your foot at the moment, as it can be a painful op, as most of us know after having it done it is worth it, even on the day of the op he came to see me and went through all the details again, I was in overnight.

    I do agree the aftercare info is a little sparse, however the physiotherapist was helpful, she did say plenty of elevation as the swelling could last a long time, when you sit down always elevate, which is what I have done, I am just over 3wks post op and it is healing very well, but it does soon swell when I am not elevating it, I have started to wear totes slippers I feel it is helping to exercise my toes, I do try to stretch my foot a lot, with a sock type slipper it is easier to flex you toes and stretch your foot and ankle, she did say stretching and wiggling your toes will not do any harm, even though you think you will because it feels so tight.

    I did find this blog before my op, reading it has helped enormously.

    Have you not been back to have the dressing taken off, mine was taken off after 10days, after 14days I could wash it (no soaking) and put E45 cream on, I have been putting cream on everyday and can now stroke the scar, a little tender but getting better. My next appointment is the 6wk check.

    Keep up the posts.

  24. Joy Minnitt says:

    Now 5 days post scarf/Atkin osteotomy to left foot. Pretty painful when the nerve block wore off on Saturday afternoon – took paracetamol and codeine phosphate to control the pain but since then have been pain-free and have taken no further pain killers! Have, however, been taking homoeopathic remedies for post surgery. Don’t like wearing the shoe as it distorts posture and has made my back ache. Also, find it uncomfortable. Heel walking barefoot around the house. Slightly apprehensive about the comments regarding persistent swelling and inability of folk to get back into their regular shoes even after a couple of months – wasn’t really expecting that, but will wait and see. I think the most important thing is not to do too much and elevate leg as much as possible to reduce swelling.

  25. Johanna Hentschel says:

    Hi, I had the same surgery on both feet April 2012. By summer I was able to maneuver around with crutches to do some work on my many flower beds. I am walking almost normal now. I can do a full day’s house work without problem, I’ll walk with my dog 3 kilometers through the woods, I go to the gym, but I still don’t have good movement in my right toe thus affecting the way I walk. My toe doesn’t want to bend upwards very well. I still have a throbbing kind of pain at night sometimes if I’ve been on my feet too much. Everyone heals differently.
    Best wishes to you.

  26. CJ says:

    At last someone who is having the same experience as me! I had the op in April too and I am still very aware of pain in my toe throughout the day. I notice it most going up stairs when I can go on my toes on right foot but am still very flat on left. Party season is here and I have had to buy two pairs of shoes because I’ll never last the night in heels.

  27. Hi,
    I’m now 7 weeks after akin scar Osteotomy on my right foot, happy with the result and swelling is going down each day. I returned to work last week and was told by surgeon to not walk too much, so I’m taking it easy at work. Elevating foot whenever I can.
    The only shoes I can wear first week were Ugg boots (woollen) as they give in if swelling gets bad. No other shoes suitable at all.
    The scar is looking pretty deep at some areas and I keep using bio oil to rub in morning and night.
    No physio was given on NHS, just advise on what exercises to do at home, it is very important you do this and stick with it at least 3 x a day 🙂 because you need to get your flexibility back to help you walking normally, I still have a slight limp.
    First exercise is bend you toe up and hold for 20 seconds and down and hold for 20 seconds, it improves everyday and you can feel the difference. You need to force it slightly and hold – no pain no gain!
    The other exercise is to stand on your tiptoes slowly, preferably standing against a wall, this was painful most but again it gets better and better, it’s great to see the results.
    Last one is to sit down and lean you foot agains a flat surface (wardrobe or wall) and bend the foot again applying pressure and holding for 20 seconds at a time.
    I’m no physician so always listen to your doctor.

    Tip: if I had this surgery done again i would ask them for 2 post op shoes, as it would of been better for any back ache related pain caused by uneven walking.

    In t he morning the foot is still very stiff so normally the stretching and the exercise helps it.

    So far I’m impressed how I’m improving, swelling goes down very well and it’s less and less swallen each day.

    Stay positive and it will heal faster 🙂

  28. Joy Minnitt says:

    Am finding the blog comments really helpful. Am now 16 days post op. Only pain is down side of foot opposite op site which I presume is due to my now walking on parts of the foot that I was not walking on previously.

    Agree that having to wear one cumbersome shoe is problematic inasmuch as it is causing me to limp. Have had to do regular pilates exercises for back pain. The NHS won’t be provide patients with 2 as they are about £30 each!

    Have bought a pair of wide snow boots and Crocs in readiness for going back to work. Crocs do a Rx range especially for post op conditions.

    Haven’t had any information yet re physio.

  29. Joy Minnitt says:

    Has anyone else had advice re exercises? When am I supposed to start?

  30. Christine Shelvey says:

    I had my bunion surgery on Monday 17th December. A scarf and akin procedure on the left foot with a hammer toe correction and a bi focal osteotomy on the right foot. I was issued with the darco wedge shoes and elbow crutches. I was told that using the wedge shoes is enough exercise to avoid DVT as weight bearing helps the blood circulate. I was also told to just rotate the ankles and that was enough. I draw the letter of the alphabet with each foot in turn as someone on this blog previously suggested. For anyone scheduled for or considering double bunion surgery, please ask if they will issue these “moon boots” as they are a brilliant invention!

  31. Helen says:

    I was really pleased to find this message board as I am now six and a half weeks post op, having had a bilateral scarf and akin osteotomy on 8th November. It was done under general anaesthetic and ankle block. The dressings are off and I am rubbing bio oil into the scars twice a day and I am doing the exercises. I was originally signed off work for six weeks but there is no way I was ready to go back to work at that point (my job as a community midwife is quite active) and I have been signed off for another couple of weeks. I then have a week’s annual leave so I hope to be back at work in 3 weeks time. I am however getting a bit worried about whether I will be able to cope. At the moment, walking round a supermarket is a painful experience. My job involves antenatal clinics (lots of getting up and down) and postnatal visits which involve driving, getting in and out of the car, crouching down on floors to weigh babies (lots of people don’t have clear tables available), helping with feeding etc. I work four 10 hour days a week. I am also on call once a week (all night) after a full day’s work, 3 times a month. And I work a 12 hour night shift in the hospital once a month. I have arranged to see the Occupational Health Dept prior to my return to work but I know they will be guided by my own assessment of what I can do. Any ideas on how long it will be before I am back to normal? I am aged 57.

  32. CJ says:

    I had my surgery on 21st April and didn’t get back to work until August. I work with highly volatile children and there was too much risk that I would be kicked or stood on. I am still not 100% and still feel my foot very tight and I have limited movement. I’m still finding it difficult to find comfortable footwear as I now need a slightly bigger size on my “new” foot!

  33. ssce11 says:

    Day 4 post bilateral akin op, and had my baby toes straightened too (pip, it’s called!). Sore today, feel like the bandages are loosening which is not a nice feeling! Can’t get comfy sleeping 😦 needing sympathy!

  34. Howdy would you mind stating which blog platform you’re using? I’m looking to start my own blog soon
    but I’m having a tough time choosing between BlogEngine/Wordpress/B2evolution and Drupal. The reason I ask is because your layout seems different then most blogs and I’m
    looking for something unique. P.S My apologies for getting off-topic but I had
    to ask!

  35. swirlingleaf says:

    Hi, I use and the theme is Koi.

  36. Alice shrader says:

    Hello all. I am 13 days post op. tomorrow is my follow up- cant wait!! I’ve been very good and careful since I’m a teacher. I don’t know what kind of bunionectomy I had but it included a sesmoidectomy since I have congenital bipartite sesamoids….very rare. As a high school teacher, I am on my feet 9 hours a day on hard floors. I’ve had foot pain for my whole career. I’m 50. I just wanted to weigh in and ask about nighttime spasms. I’ve had these the last few nights. I’ve done nothing at all with my foot but elevate and ice. I did get up and go downstairs yesterday since all my children were home but remained quiet with my foot elevated. Anyone else have these issues? They are strong spasms and I worry that they wii tear somrthing😳

  37. hna says:

    I am having a bilateral akin procedure done on both feet this week, I feel scared about the general anaesthetic, the risk of DVT and the pain that some people talk about here. although some of the comments have made me feel a little better, some others have concerned me about the swelling and not being able to get normal shoes on etc.

  38. Johanna Hentschel says:

    You shouldn’t worry; it does take time to get back into shoes. I had surgery 1 1/2 years ago and it’s only since half a year that I fit into shoes (that I chose to keep), and have no more swelling. I also had surgery on both feet.
    Best wishes!

  39. hna says:

    Thank you for your reply, how did it feel when you came round from the anaesthetic and did you have much pain if so how long did the pain last for.

  40. Johanna Hentschel says:

    I was actually not bad after the anaesthetic. I did not let all the pain meds wear off. We had gotten counselling from the hospital nurse before and she told us how to take these heavy duty drugs so that we would not experience too much pain. The day after the surgery I had nausea but after that it was manageable. I did not walk much the first week. Mostly in bed with feet up. Generally speaking, though, for the first two weeks, if I didn’t take my pain medicine regularly & let them overlap a bit, my feet did throb. After the first tow weeks the pain was quite manageable.
    Now I walk for long periods of time without any problems at all – and no more bunions! It was so worth it.

  41. Melanie Paul says:

    Hello my name is melanie and its 3 days after my sugery. I got both feet done and find reading these bogs very helpful. I am having night spasms in my sleep as well as I read above in another persons post.Is this normal? I have been in alot of pain, but stopped taking the pain meds as they were making me very nausious . Would love to hear from anyone regarding their experences.

  42. Johanna Hentschel says:

    Oh my, no meds! You’re brave. maybe your doctor can change your meds to something that won’t make you nautious. It’s a painful surgery in most cases

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