bunionectomy lapidus - my experience

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I had a bunionectomy lapidus surgery on my right foot inOctober 2017  by an orthopedic surgeon in Texas.  Just wanted to share my experience because I wish I would have known all this before surgery.

Right before surgery they placed a nerve block in my leg which made my leg completely numb for the first 3 days.  I liked the nerve block.  When the medicine in it ran out, I easily pulled it out of my leg myself.  I the tried taking the narcotic pain medicine they gave me but it made me feel sick so I just took 650mg of Tylenol which worked for me.  I probably stayed on that round the clock for a couple of weeks.  

I was non weight bearing and non driving for the first 2 weeks.  The hardest thing the first 2 weeks was the inconvenience of this...  getting around with one foot.  For bathing, I wrapped my foot with cling wrap and dangled my leg out of the tub ( for about 2-3 weeks).... not easy!!   I used crutches the first week which was hard then switched to a knee walker... a great invention.  I went back to work at 2.5 weeks post op with the use of my knee walker.  I still use the scooter now for long distances but finally at 4 month’s post op I just now am able to walk mostly normally on my foot.  It does still  hurt if I’ve been walking on it a lot.

About 6 weeks post op I started physical therapy.  I wish I would have started sooner- my Dr did not suggest it until I told him at 6 weeks I couldn’t hardly moves my first couple toes.   Therapy has helped a lot but after a couple different therapists I requested one particular therapist who manually would stretch out my foot each time.  This was the most pain I had. It HURTS when he stretches it!! But I feel it has REALLY benefitted my foot!!  I also do daily exercises:  towel scrunch, heel raises, stretching my toe against a wall.  Gotta be religious about doing these daily. Make the time!!! This is the future use of that foot!!   I hated towel scrunch at first but now find much benefit to it.  Exercises aren’t fun but you gotta make yourself do them.

I feel you must find a balance  between exercising the foot and resting it.  Many people told me that staying off the foot will accelerate healing. I tried when I could.  I have also taken Vitamin D3 and used a bone growth stimulator (with the approval of my Dr).  At 4 months the swelling has finally mostly subsided but many people have told me the foot won’t feel normal for atleast a year.

What I would have done differently...

- Started therapy sooner/ my therapist said it can be started even a couple days after surgery but your physician may not agree- get his/her permission.

- Stayed off my foot more, perhaps taken longer off of work. 

-  Done more research beforehand on physicians and recovery.  I think my Dr did a good job but he told me very little about the recovery process.  Ask a lot of questions prior to surgery!!!   Be informed!!  Do your own research. 

- Be better prepared for the financial costs- surgery, follow up appointments, medicines, post op shoes, therapy.  It adds up!! 

Am I glad I had the surgery?? time will tell.  I don’t think I’ve talked to a single person who’s had a bunionectomy who doesn’t have some other ongoing issue with their foot.   I had some numbness and neuropathy- both my surgeon and therapist told me to massage those areas and the incisions (after completely healed) and I do think this has helped.  It breaks down scar tissue.  

Best wishes on your foot!!  

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  • Posted


    ?I'm scheduled for a lapidus osteotomy (breaking big toe and 3 other toes) on my left foot on 3/28.

    ?I've been told that I'll be non-weight bearing for 6 weeks and then semi weight bearing for another 6 weeks.

    ?I didn't know how bad the pain would be after the surgery and that's good that you were able to take a stronger tylenot because I can't take any Nsaids which really restricts me.

    ?I've never had surgery below my waist so this is all new to me!

    ?I'm glad that you mentioned that about physical therapy. Can I do physical therapy while I have my cast on? I'll be in a hard cast for the first 6 weeks and then I don't know what kind of a cast I'll be in.  I want to start physical therapy as quickly as I can because I've used the Sports Medicine center at Duke where I work for other injuries and they push me and are really great!

    When would you suggest I ask my Doctor to refer me for physical therapy?

    ?I'm going to have to freeze my gym membership with Planet Fitness for a few months.  Basically though I haven't been able to walk for exercise now for 3-4 months because my 4th toe bone is overlapping my 3rd toe bone and I have a sore on the 4th toe that I have to dress every day.

    ?I've got 2 knee scooters-1 for work and 1 for home.  I'm also having a ramp built over my steep 42 foot walkway so that I can get down to the parking lot for pickup by the Access bus or people whom are giving my rides to appts etc. So far finding someone to build the ramp has been really difficult and I'm not sure if the company, 101 Mobility, that I've selected can get the gradient down to something that I can get down and back up on my scooter.

    ?Please let me know if there's anything that I can expect and any suggestions are welcomed!



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    • Posted

      Wow, Karen, sounds like a big surgery!  After surgery,  when everyone will be asking what happened to your foot, you will hear a ton of feet surgery stories!!  I heard a lot of bunionectomy stories - from men too- and many talked about how bad their pain was.  For me the pain wasn’t that bad, thankfully.

      Ask your Dr about when to start PT.  Probably can’t in a cast.  I had a hard splint just one week.  I think my sutures  came out at 2 weeks.  

      You might be able to do upper body exercises at gym.  My Dr said I could do the stationary bike after about 2 months but my “exercise” became doing my foot stretching every day.  Just went back to the gym a couple weeks ago. Still just doing the bike and upper body.  I don’t see myself trying to run on it for another 6 months. 

      Not sure about the ramp.  I can go up small inclines on my scooter.  You could try it out now.  I have a 2 story home so for about a month I did the stairs on my rear.  Stayed at my parents for first couple weeks- no stairs. 

      Everything took 5 times as long to do on one foot- getting a glass of water, food, etc.  

      The whole thing was a much bigger ordeal than I expected.  But I’m finally starting  to feel normalacy again.  There were some moments of doubt along the way.  The scooter is kind of fun but does get a little old.  You’ll get a ton of comments about it. 

      Hope all goes well!! 

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  • Posted


    ?Thanks for you comments!

    ?I don't even know whether my cast is going to cover my whole foot! Someone told me that I'd have pins sticking out of my toes and the cast would be open.  That's not going to work when I'm trying to maneuver around my house!

    ?What questions should I be asking my surgeon?

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  • Posted

    More advice... I was having some numbness/ neuropathy in my toes about 2 months post op.  My surgeon  said to massage those areas.  I think it’s helped. Also the incisions are still sensitive and painful.  My PT said also massage those to break down scar tissue.  He pinches  them at therapy (so painful!!) but I think it helps.   I wouldn’t do this until your doctor says it’s OK.  I’ve gotten great info from my PT 
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