Bunion and severe hammer toe surgery. Any advice

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I have a bunion and severe hammer toe with swollen middle joint or knuckle. I am a sixty year old male and expecting to have private surgery at the London Foot clinic by Jason Hargrave. Has anyone had any experiences they could tell me about either good or bad? I am very nervous about this but desperate to get something done as this condition is making my life a misery? John

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  • Posted

    Just to supply empathy John as I too have to give this surgery consideration.  I have just looked at Jason Hargrave site and to be honest my feet are worse than those photos for bunion surgery.  That alone makes me feel apprehensive but like you I feel I need to get this done - I am 69.  At times I wonder why I am going to put myself through this and I am also not helped by 'should it be a orthopedic surgeon with a speciality in Foot/Ankle Surgery or a Podiatric Surgeon?'

    All I know if you look around this site there are so many helful people who are there to support as they have been through this surgery.  I had my consultaion with Lyndon Jones and he very kindly said everyone is different when it comes to pain levels, etc.  So who we go to we just then have to put our trust in them and think positively.  Good Luck - keep in touch.

  • Posted

    Good morning John.

    I had bunion ( hallux valgus to give it it's correct medical name) surgery together with hammertoe surgery on same foot in 2013.

    Trust me you'll be absolutely fine!

    I had put off seeking help for these 2 things for so many years whilst the condition continued to worsen.

    I was very nervous as I was told/had read that it was extremely painful.

    Please don't believe all you read or hear.

    The first couple of days post surgery were very uncomfortable but thereafter I had no pain. I experienced pressure and throbbing but only when my foot was down.

    You see, you have to make sure that you keep the foot elevated above groin level as much as possible for the first 2 weeks most definitely, and for many weeks ( although this reduces as time passes) and you will know, or rather, your foot will let you know when it's had enough of being down and needs to be elevated.

    Any discomfort is easily treated with normal painkillers  - paracetamol together with ibuprofen  - they can be taken together for limited perids.

    I was also given Tramadol at the hospital and to bring home. Unfortunately it made me feel very sick and dizzy and IU had to stop taking it. My GP confirmed it's a great drug for killing pain but has awful side effects and he told me I had done exactly the right thing in stopping it. That said, I wasn't really having any pain so that's why I stuck with the paracetamol/ paracetamol.

    Please remember the recovery period after this surgery is very long. Up to 12 months. BUT, with following the advice about rest, elevation and keeping your walking about to an absolute minimum for the first few weeks will aid the recovery. You will have stiffness in the foot and this will very likely continue for many, many months. The movement does eventually return but you have to be very patient.

    It all sounds a very long time however, think of how long you have had to put up with the pain before you had the surgery. Adopt this line and you will no doubt agree that 12 or 18 months getting back to normal is a small length of time after all the years you've suffered beforehand.

    Driving:  If you drive a manual car you must notify your car insurer of your surgery. It does not affect your insurance premium/cover. But you have to safeguard yourself in case of an accident and you must not resume driving until you can safely perform an emergency stop.

    This ruling does not apply if you drive an automatic.

    That said, you will very likelybe about 3 months before you feel confident to resume driving.

    I was 63 when I had my surgery and have since had the bunion operated on on my other foot.

    Both lots of surgery have gone extremely well and I have no regrets. Both were very substantial bunions and the hammertoe, like yours, had callouses on top.

    Invest in a Limbo. This is a plastic stocking which you can wear over the top of your bandages/dressings to allow you to shower. Also, I bought a bed cradle to insert between my bed base and mattress to lift the duvet off my legs.

    I found both these things have been invaluable.

    You will very likely have elbow crutches and should be shown before you leave hospital how to use them and ascend and descend the stairs. You will probably feel daunted but, trust me, after a couple of days you'll find going up and down stairs is slow but not too difficult.

    It you need the loo and your bathroom is upstairs as mine is, always allow yourself plenty of time to get there the moment you feel the urge to go.

    A lightweight bag to wear across your body to carry your mobile phone and other bits and bobs as you move from room to room is another excellent thing to have. Always take your phone with you as you move from room to room in case you topple over and need to call for help.

    Meals ( if you live alone) can be ready meals to pop in the microwave until you are able to go out shopping.

    Any offers from friends/neighbours/relatives must be accepted. Don't be afraid to ask for their help.

    If there's anything else you need to know please don't be afraid to let me know.

    I am looking forward to my annual Scottish holiday and some nice fell walks again this year wearing my trusty walking boots.

    I am sure that you will be fine.

    Just don't be in a hurry to get everything back to normal.

    Think to yourself that each month will be a month nearer your goal.

    Good Luck!



    • Posted

      Presumably you DO need to refrain from driving (even if you have an Automatic) if it is your RIGHT foot that has been operated on! (Just to state the obvious...)
  • Posted

    Hi. If yiu have time to recover and are able to manage sitting for weeks with your foot raised, you'll be fine.  I am coming up to 6 weeks.  I am 69 and had scarf and akin surgery with middle hammer toe straightened by shortening and K wire inserted, this pin was in my toe for 4 weeks.  This was done by an orphaoaedic surgeon.

    The pain is manageable, but the mobility is harder, it's good if you have someone to help you in the first three weeks or so.  I had everything in one place, bed in living room, recliner chair for the day and a loo downstairs near the living room.  I did nothing but sit, so you need plenty by your chair to keep you occupied.

    At 6 weeks, most of the wound his healed, just have a little scab area.  There are still lots going on under the skin though. I get all sorts of feelings, sharp prickles or pain, dull aches, swelling that stretches across the foot, but it's all manageable.

    I've found a shoe that fits and is comfortable, I've gone from walker to crutches and now walking stick.  I invested in a lightweight self propelling wheelchair but that was because I wanted to get out and about, luckily my husband doesn't mind pushing.

    The most important thing is my toes look so straight!  The surgeon told me there will be times when I ask myself why I had the op, because of discomfort, swelling and difficulty in walking and not doing normal activities.  He also said it would be at least 6 months before my foot becomes normal, but this would happen gradually.  Sometimes it takes longer.

    Right now I think it's worth it, and I am gradually getting better, and when it hurts or is swollen, I know I have done too much and tried to jump a few steps to recovery.

    Good luck and hope this helps.

  • Posted

    People vary in their recovery so much after having bunion surgery, you just have to look at the positives beforehand.  If your foot is bad, then get it done.  For example in my case (and this is unusual) I had a bunionectomy two years ago performed on the NHS in my local hospital and it was a very, very painful procedure and the result was not satisfactory.  I have now had a correction performed by the Senior Surgeon at the same hospital, with more work carried out and from which I am currently recovering, and I did not feel any pain afterwards.   I am recovering nicely 6 weeks post op.  So you see that two similar operations can be quite different even on the same person.  I think it is often down to who performs the operation. Gilly is right, just put your trust in your chosen surgeon and you should be fine.
  • Posted

    Hi John, don't worry about it. I had surgery on my right foot in Sept 2013 and on my left foot November 2013.  Very little pain not at all like I had expected.  Unfortunately I have had to have the right foot done again.  I had this surgery 4 weeks ago.  It was my own fault because I did too much too soon the first time round and did not realise that I had fractured my metatarsal.  Only found this out when I started having problems about 12 months ago.  This time round I have tried to take it a bit more slowly.  I had another scarf/akin procedure and fusion surgery for my hammertoe.  I have no swelling whatsoever and can actually fit my foot into normal footwear and a could at 3 weeks post op. 

    Below is a photo of my foot 3 weeks post op.  Hope this reassures you.


  • Posted

    Hi John, I fully agree with the comments and experiences of the other forum members. I had both my feet done at the same time - scarf procedure to remove bunions and arthritis. I hav e experienced discomfort rather than pain. Took codeine the first week, now on 1-2 paracetamol a day only. Discomfort is pins and needles, the odd shooting pain, and sometimes feet feeling very hot. The worse for me is having to be patient and spend a lot of time with my feet up. I am now in my 4th week and walking around in special shoes without crutches. I did see two surgeoms before my op and spoke to their patients as well. I went for a great othopaedic surgeon at the Circle Hospital in Reading and have no regrets. I am glad I went for both feet at the same time as it is a hassle,but really, very little pain. Good luck?
  • Posted

    Hi John

    Surgery is never something to be taken lightly but if it's needed, there's no point in putting it off either. I had my first consultation with a Consultant Podiatrist (not Jason Hargraves although I did look at his site). The great thing about a Consultant Podiatrist is that this is their specialty and have experience of 1000's of similar ops. In my case, I was advised that my case was more complex and since it was caused by a serious knee injury I was recommended by the Podiatrist to get a second opinion from an Orthopaedic Surgeon, which I did. I think Gillian is right - trust is key. I felt both surgeons were highly competent but the Orthopaedic Surgeon understood the knee issue and agreed that putting me in plaster for 6 weeks would be a problem. I am now 6 weeks post surgery - all went very smoothly, there has been minimal pain (I only once needed something stronger than paracetamol) and I am now allowed to walk in trainers - although I'm not sure I'd quite describe it as walking! I did have a wobble about a week before surgery, nothing hurt and i started to question why I was doing this but of course I knew that my foot needed treatment, two surgeons had confirmed it so I took a deep breath! I suspect that everyone has moments during the process that are difficult in one way or another but perhaps not what you might expect. I would say if the op needs to be done, get on and do it - the sooner it's done, the sooner you start healing and get back to leading the kind of life you want to. Good Luck!

  • Posted

    Thanks to all the many people who have replied to my thread. I very much appreciate your kind words and sensible advice. One of the things that is worrying me is that I am going private and with a podiatry surgeon rather than an orthopedic surgeon. Does any one have any experience with bunion and hammer toe surgery with podiatric surgeons please?
  • Posted

    John - I sympathise as I said in my first post to you.  It seems there is no straight answer (woops must have straight toes on my mind) as to who is best to carry out the work.  I am still asking around and all I can say is my first consulation back in 2006 was with an orthopedic surgeon and to be honest his 'let me at your foot approach' terrified me.  BUT - who knows he may have been brilliant.  Now this podiatric surgeon I saw a few months ago just was very easy to talk to - so who knows.  

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