Another common (but not normal) pain many patients complain about is the pain at the ball of their foot, this is sometimes called “transfer metatarsalgia” which is the movement of pain from the bunion (hallux valgus) to the area under the ball of the foot, an imbalance of weight through the toe joints. It is usually because the bone of the big toe was reduced a little too much, causing the imbalance and the weight is shifted to the smaller toes which are not designed to carry so much of our body’s weight.
Just like any other medical procedure, there are some pain and swelling that are normal for the first few days or a week after the bunion surgery.
Your doctor can prescribe a few medications that will ease your discomfort.
But with the poorly distributed weight on your little toes, the pain will linger and would usually need a revision bunion surgery.
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What to expect after bunion surgery?
Right after bunion surgery
As it is an outpatient procedure, you can go home the same day after your surgery.
You’ll stay in a recovery room for a few hours until your healthcare provider determines that you are safe to go home, you might also need to call someone to drive you home.
You will wear a cast or a special type of shoe to keep your toe in the right position for at least 3 to 6 weeks, you will also be instructed to elevate your feet to minimize swelling and avoid putting weight on your big toe.
Take pain medicines as prescribed by your doctor and keep your bandages and wound dry at all times.
2 weeks after surgery
Your doctor will usually get your stitches out around this time but if you have removable pins holding your toe in place, they are usually removed in about 4 to 6 weeks.
You will still be wearing a special shoe to keep the toe safe and in the right position most of the time.
You will also still be advised to elevate your feet but not as frequently during the first 2 weeks after the surgery.
6 to 12 weeks after surgery
Cornerstone Foot and Ankle notes that 60 percent of patients will be able to resume wearing shoes in 6 weeks, with 90 percent able to wear shoes at 8 weeks after surgery.
The time between 6 to 8 weeks is when you can safely drive, it is being advised to wear comfortable shoes.
Women should try to avoid wearing high heels for at least six months and gradually increase the weight you put on your foot as your incision heals.
Your doctor might recommend for you to go to physical therapy for you to learn exercises that can strengthen your foot and lower leg.
You may still have some minor pain and swelling for 6 months up until a year after the surgery but if you are in regular follow-up checks with your doctor and they confirm that it’s normal then no need to worry.
How to treat ball of foot pain after bunion surgery?
Revision bunion surgery
This type of surgery is complicated and requires a significant amount of training and experience to do well.
The doctor who will perform the revision surgery would need to carefully analyze the history of the patient as well their lifestyle.
They then needs to plan the surgery based on how the problem area is presented and how to fix it to eliminate the pain caused by misaligned bones of the foot.
Custom orthotic insoles
You can use a custom orthotic that fits extremely close to the arch of the foot.
This type of orthotic called a “total contact orthotic” has been shown in multiple studies to be the most effective method to reduce pressure under the ball of the foot.
Depending on the severity of your pain, please consult your doctor if using this is a good temporary option or if surgery is the only way to fix the problem.
Foot arch support
Another surgery is not a light decision, you can speak with your doctor and ask if trying home treatments first would be safe and worth a try.
They might also give you a good recommendation on what type of arch support to use, and for how long before you can decide if it’s working or if surgery is really necessary in your case.
What is causing the ball of foot pain after bunion surgery?
For bunion surgery to be successful, the pain should be eliminated and patients can go back to their normal bodily functions after a complete recovery.
The most common reason for feeling pain on the ball of the foot after bunion surgery is when the bone for the great toe was shortened a little too much during the correction of the bunion.
The shape of the foot is changed and the patient’s weight moves over to the next toes during walking, smaller toes that are not made to bear too much weight.
How long does it take the bone to heal after bunion surgery?
Full recovery will take time and healing is different for everyone but based on recorded data it usually takes 9-12 weeks for your bones to heal.
Good news for those who need to speed up their recovery and thanks to new and advanced surgical methods, if you are a good candidate for Lapiplasty you could gain full recovery for as fast as 6 weeks.
There are about 130 described ways to operate on a bunion.
Usually, when there are this many options, it could mean that the best option has yet to be discovered.
Historically, bunion surgeries have been painful and often come with post-surgery issues.
Schedule an appointment with your local healthcare provider and ask for the best option for your ball of foot pain.