Among the things you can expect from bunion surgery recovery are initial pain, discomfort, or soreness, and stiffness in the area. Over time, this discomfort typically lessens, and you should gradually gain improved movement in your big toe. Recovery isn’t usually considered very difficult, but its success depends, at least in part, on following the orders from your surgeon.
The pain after bunion surgery is usually manageable with prescription painkillers. You may need to take painkillers regularly to stay comfortable during the first few days of post-surgery recovery. With time, the pain should diminish to soreness that isn’t significant enough to require treatment.
Keep in mind that the recovery process can be somewhat long. It generally takes between six weeks to six months to recover after surgery, but sometimes, it can take up to a year. If you follow the orders from your medical provider carefully, the length of the recovery time will depend mostly on how much bone and soft tissue were affected by the surgery. Often, you will be able to resume many of your normal activities within six to eight weeks. Some people may be able to drive and return to sedentary jobs after about a week.
You'll need to get plenty of rest after surgery. For the first three to five days, put as little pressure on the affected foot as possible. You may be told to apply an ice pack to the area, which can help to keep the swelling to a minimum. Keeping the foot elevated may not only help reduce swelling, but it may also help relieve some post-surgery discomfort.
After returning home from surgery, you will still have stitches in place. A healthcare professional will usually remove them after a few weeks. You may also have special pins in your foot for up to six weeks following surgery, although three to four weeks is more typical. While the stitches are in place, it’s important to keep the foot dry, covering it while taking a shower or bath.
Once you're back on your feet and walking again, you'll probably have to use crutches to walk for at least a few weeks. In fact, some bunion surgeries require the patient to avoid putting her full weight on the affected foot for as many as six to eight weeks. It is important to follow medical orders on this, as keeping weight off the foot usually helps you to recover more quickly.
Footwear changes are also among the things that you should expect from bunion surgery recovery. You may have a walking cast or special shoes designed for recovery. Some patients can start wearing regular shoes again in a about a month, but in most cases, it’s necessary to wear special shoes for two to three months following bunion surgery.