I am new here & need advice on bunion surgery

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Hello I am new on this site. I am suppose to have surgery end of July 2017 on my bunion & guess hammer toe. My Dr is telling me I will need plates & screws to keep bone in place. Before last year he said I was only going have pins. I am scared after reading so many stories. I am 48 & I do not do good with pain. sad.I'd like know if anyone had surgery with plates & screws & how much pain is it. I am trying decide if I am going just cancel surgery & try deal with my foot.It just sounds to painful...Any advice I would greatly appreciate. It.

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  • Posted

    Hi Tammy,

    I had Lapidus surgery on April 10th on my right foot and a gastroc recession.  I have 3 screws placed in my foot. I cannot comment on the plate because my doctor only placed screws.  I had a nerve block and general anesthesia. I was extremely nervous about having this surgery. My doctor is absolutely wonderful. I have not experienced the pain that others have just discomfort. I am non weight bearing for 10 weeks. I hope this helps.

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  • Posted

    Hi Tammy

    I had a bunion and 2 hammertoes surgery in February this year. I had two pins through my toes so had to wear surgical shoe for six weeks. Apart from the first few days which can be painful, the pain is definitely manageable after that. The only thing that has surprised me is that two months after surgery my foot is still a bit swollen and still have to hobble as toes are still stiff. I called the hospital last week and the nurse assured me that is normal and to expect us to 6 months before this it is back to normal. Hope this helps


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  • Posted

    Hi Tammy,

    I had a bunion removal with 2 screws to correct the bone alignment.

    I also had a general anaesthetic and nerve block.

    To be honest, I was in excruciating pain for the first week, with burning and throbbing when I put my foot down. I was instructed to completely weight bear in a surgical boot with a walking stick for the first few days and then without the stick.

    I think everyone's experience is different and it will be difficult to know the level of discomfort you will endure due to the procedure and your own pain tolerance.

    The best advice I think is to weigh up the pros and cons of surgery vs living with your foot as it is.

    Good luck 😉

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  • Posted

    Hi Tammy,

    I did some research prior to my surgery and found only people saying how glad they were they did it and that they could walk again.  This is probably good or I might not have proceeded had I found all of the difficult posts saying how incredibly painful and difficult it is and all of the ups and downs mentally (which showed up later when searching for things like "when will the swelling go down"wink.

    There are many varieties of bunionectomy apparently, so you want to make sure you are comparing apples to apples as best as possible. It sounds like some of yours might be similar to mine, so I'll share my experience.  Try not to freak out. I don't know yet how I'm going to feel about this, but I will check back often between now and your surgery date because I wish I had a resource like this prior to getting this done. It's not an easy surgery by any means and is much more complicated than I realized. I thought, "a foot. big deal. doc says I won't feel improvement for a year. so what! it's getting worse. i have to act now before I'm older and it's harder."  Turns out, a serious foot surgery is a very big deal! Who knew?

    Note: I'm 45 so almost your age. I am not *very* active, but I am very busy and do walk quite a bit on weekends at the motocross tracks. Hope to get back to regular gardening, walking and home improvement this fall (if I can buy another house and get out of my current living situation). Hopefully that helps you compare a little.

    What happened to me so far:

    I had lapidus bunionectomy with weil 2nd metatarsal shortening and 4th hammer toe correction.

    I have a pin in my 4th toe (which looks like they cut it off and reattached due to incision around middle of toe where they fused the joint--not painful, just Frankenstein looking). I have a 1-1/2" incision over my 2nd toe metatarsal (weil procedure). And a 4" incision down my big toe metatarsal. On the big toe, I know my surgeon cut one tendon, tightened a second, cut a wedge at the bottom to correct the angle and fused that part of the metatarsal bone to the smaller middle bone near the ankle. Not sure if they always do all of that in lapidus or not. I have several screws.

    DAY 1: APRIL 13, 2017

    Surgery - Get the anisthesia block in your leg. You will be very sorry if you don't, I suspect. I seemed great the first two days apparently (I remember very little except pain and lots of sleeping). I was on Vicodin (hydrocodone). I learned to take 1 every two hours instead of 2 every four hours, which helped to keep the pain level more bearable.

    Get the anti-nausea and vomiting patch behind the ear too if they will give you one. And DON'T TAKE IT OFF until you are CERTAIN it's not working.

    Note: They say you need someone with you for 24 hours. IMO, you will need someone with you for a week minimum!  It's been 10 days now and I cannot manage for myself with the crutches I have. My boyfriend is going to get me a roll-about knee scooter this afternoon. That is supposed to help tons. Crutches are very difficult when medicated. I almost fell over a bunch of times and the foot hurts like crazy when mobile because it's not high enough. I'm going to wager, get a scooter in advance if you can. I will share more later this week after trying it.  

    Or at a minimum get a walker with a basket on it if you have to manage at all alone. Otherwise, I can't imagine how anyone could do this. You need ice every hour (behind knee works as good as it's going to get--at least for me). Food, bathroom. And you can't carry anything with crutches and a throbbing/burning foot.

    Also, I ended up with a hassock in the bathroom to prop my foot on while I toilet (helps a bunch even just for short jaunts). And you will needs lots of pillows to prop you leg up virtually all the time anywhere you sit.

    DAY 3, April 15 -

    My block ran out about 36 hours after surgery, I'd guess. (Surgery was Thursday afternoon. Saturday, I was becoming increasingly miserable.) The vicodin made it bearable, but it also made me feel awful mentally. I was not going to last long on this drug.

    My foot also started cramping. My hammertoe correction felt permanently cramped straight up. Then the bunion incision and the bottom (Weil procedure) also started "cramping". I was getting woken up by painful muscle spasms. It sucked.

    DAY 4, April 16 -

    Saturday afternoon or Sunday morning I decided the patch probably wasn't working anymore and had run out, since the anethesiologist told me it'd probably last three days. I was wrong! It took off the patch and got very sick from the hydrocodone. (I can't take oxycodone. That was worse. I tried that first before surgery. Still pain and just sick.)

    I had a SEARING headache that started the day before. Plus nausea from stupidly taking off that patch that was bugging me. I felt AWFUL!

    I stopped taking the pain killers and resorted to Advil to stop the headache because it's Easter and the oncall nurse is telling me my symptoms sound like a drug reaction and I need to go to urgent care. I cannot go anywhere! A very, very bad day.

    Also, muscle spasms and cramping continued and worsened. Sunday night I had a spasm so bad I screamed out loud and heard a loud cracking noise like bones breaking. I was terrified I had just had something go terribly wrong with my surgery and bones moving wrong.

    I called the nurse hotline and the oncall doctor told me to loosen my wrapping on my foot and leave it undone for several minutes to let my foot relax and breathe. Then rewrap looser. Worked like a charm! Never had another serious spasm since.

    Turns out the swelling was too much for the amount of room in the bandage and that's what was causing spasms. Also, my surgeon prescribed a muscle relaxer later to help further. It helped, but made me feel terrible mentally so I didn't take it again. (I am sensitive to drugs and don't like anything that makes me feel loopy or out of control. This is partly why I have had such a hard time with this surgery. If you are good with drugs, you might have a different experience.)

    Note: Foot swelling is worst at night and first thing when I put my foot down in the morning. Over the day(s) it starts to get better during waking hours if I am diligent about ice and elevation.  If I take pain medication and then do too much (at all), I pay for it shortly thereafter. Less is more right now!

    DAY 5 - 

    I finally have a bowel movement. Screaming, viscious, whoozy, sweating pain. Worst so far. They mentioned I should drink lots of water and the pain killers might cause constipation. That little disclaimer was wholly insufficient. If you are taking pain meds, make sure you get some pericolace or ask your doctor about other alternatives or you will have more problems than your foot. 

    Don't remember much else this day. I am going to assume I was still quite miserable.

    DAY 6 - Doctor's visit

    Took off bulky wrap and rewrapped with just gauze and one ace bandage. Told me to start exercising my ankle. Gave me a short boot to protect the foot. Hurt to put it on because my ankle was swollen and it was digging into the side. Took it off promptly on returning home and putting my foot up. Does feel better to have my ankle crooked again when I can pull my foot back up toward my knee a bit.

    Kept my foot down too long at the doctors and then waiting for new pain meds. Lots of swelling and pain. Overdid it.

    Doc gives me Trammadol to try. I am willing. Pain is very intense still.

    DAY 7 and 8 - 

    Don't remember much. Fairly miserable. Constant swelling. I did try the Trammodol. One does nothing for pain, but I don't feel sick. Two works, but I feel not good mentally. I don't like it. I still wake up every hour for MANY hours at night because of pain and swelling.

    TIP: This sounds ridiculous, but a woman suggested it and I tried it. I don't believe in crystals even though I am an intuitive. (Don't think badly of me. I am also very down to earth and very grounded. I work normal work in addition to intuitive work.) Regardless, she told me to buy a small Amethyst *point* it's called. Just a little broken off shard off a larger Amethyst crystal cluster. And hold the bottom of the point shard about an inch or so off the surface of the injury/trauma (incision, bone work in this case) and aim the point away from the foot.

    In my most desperate moments when the pain relief was not working and I was waking up every hour at night until 1, 2, 4am, I would lean up over my legs and hold that crystal as close to my surgery spots as I could without touching the bandages and I swear I could feel the different spots here and there that would pull when it was near them, and it did help with pain. Whether that was just my mental focus or not, I cannot swear, but it helped me and I am VERY grateful for that woman because that was all I had in those moments when I would feel so miserable. I would recommend it, actually, although I don't know if it will help someone who isn't used to intentionally feeling things in their body subtlely. It did help me.

    Also, I finally learned that icing my foot directly over the bandage/injury causes more swelling for me!!!  Keeping the ice behind my knee works MUCH better! Highly recommended ice behind knee and not on foot if direct cold causes you issues. Big tip for me when I figured it out!

    On a less good note, I tried the Trammadol and had serious constipation problems again. More screaming pain. My boyfriend did a ton of research and it looks like Magnesium can solve the problem taking 200mg three times a day with food (or something similar). Google it. I haven't asked my doctor about it yet. But will on my next visit. Then maybe I could take some pain medication again. That would be nice! I will let you know what I find out.

    DAY 9, Breaking point - 

    I go to bed in pain every night. I wake up in pain every morning. I am miserable and mentally broken. I had no idea this was going to be so painful or so hard. Just getting to the bathroom on my crutches is a total chore. Every time I put my foot down it hurts like crazy. My butt and hips and back are now getting sore too from sitting so much. My groin is cramping and tight from having my leg lifted in the same position all the time. 

    I finally google "When will swelling end" in relation to this procedure and find an old thread of three women going through all the same stuff for weeks. I cry and vent and finally post on facebook how miserable I am. I can't take three more weeks of this. I'm not sure I can handle another day. The outpouring of support is huge. I finally have a good day after I get up and get moving a bit. I sit on the porch in the sun which helps a ton! (I just cover my toes so they don't burn or get hot.)

    I also learn how to stretch my leg out behind me on a chair (standing on my other foot) with my injured foot pointed up toward ceiling and lunge forward to stretch tight groin. Helps a bunch!

    I needed this. My brain was felt like breakdown that morning. I was mentally toast.

    I decide to try acetominophen with food last night a couple of hours before bed. Perhaps it helped some.

    DAY 10 - Today,

    I slept from midnight or 1 am until after 8am today. This is the first night I've slept through in 10 days. There is some sense of hope that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. My resilience mentally is better today, thankfully.

    My body is worse. My foot has been swollen and painful since I woke up and ice isn't helping. Maybe I over did it yesterday because I was finally feeling a little better. Not sure.

    But the pain is different somehow. I can tolerate it and block it out in a way. I am getting more numb to it sort of even though it still hurts. In fact, my foot is cramping right now. It sucks, but there is really nothing i can do. Maybe I will try some Tramadol with the Magnesium without waiting for the doctors OK of the Magnesium. Depends how long this carmping continues.

    Right now I am going to unwrap and rewrap my foot perhaps and see if that helps? Not sure. Rewrapping at the proper tension proves to be difficult at best. But my foot is totally cramped right now. Argh!

    Still, today for the first time in days I feel like I probably did make the right choice still. It wasn't getting better before. At least I have a chance.



    1) Prep well before surgery. Foot rests, knee scooter, attendant to stay with you at least a week, lots of pillows to prop your leg with.

    2) Get the pain block at surgery and an anti-nausea patch is available.

    2) Ice behind knee if trouble directly on bandage.

    3) Find out how to combat constipation. (Magnesium?) Water in take doesn't cut it.

    4) Take anti-nausea with pain killers after patch expires.

    5) Amethyst point? Maybe? I am glad I have it.

    6) Stretches on groin for elevated leg help with stiffness and aching.

    I hope this helps. I am writing it all down because i don't want anyone else to not have a good current resource. It's hard enough. Strong support that is up to date is *so* helpful!

    Hopefully someone else on here is current too! Reading on.

    I'll keep you posted. Good luck!

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    • Posted

      PS. I have the plate as well and non-weightbearing for 2 months. Then boot for one month. Then hoping to get a shoe on at month 4. Doc (and other forums) says swelling at night for a year. Then it should feel better.
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