A bunion occurs when your metatarsophalangeal (MTP) joint, or the joint that attaches the base of your big toe to your foot, slips permanently out of place, forcing your big toe to angle inward and your joint to angle outward. To compensate for this abnormal repositioning, your MTP joint develops an extra bony protrusion, or bunion.
It’s normal for a bunion to cause a certain degree of discomfort as it grows, especially when you’re on your feet. That’s because your MTP joint bears a substantial amount of your body weight any time you stand, walk, run, or jump.
When conservative treatment solutions like wearing the right shoes or using custom orthotic inserts no longer provide adequate relief, bunion surgery — which usually consists of removing the bunion, realigning your big toe joint, and rebalancing your foot structure — can be an ideal solution.
If you’ve opted to get back on your feet with bunion surgery, careful pre-procedural planning is essential for ensuring optimal healing and the best possible outcome. Taking time to prepare your home for a smooth, stress-free recovery is an indispensable part of that process. Here are a few useful tips to help you get the job done right.
Bunion surgery is an intensive procedure that requires a significant amount of healing and downtime. To set yourself up for a successful outcome and a speedy recovery, it’s important to familiarize yourself with your specific post-surgery care needs at least a week before your operation.
It’s a good idea to read your post-surgery instructions at least a couple of times. Write down any questions you may have the first time through; the second time, make a list of everything you should have on hand at home following your procedure.
Once you have a detailed list of necessities to work with, you can gather all the medical supplies you need to get through the first few weeks of your recovery with minimal effort.
Basics typically include over-the-counter or prescription pain relievers, antibiotics to prevent infection post-surgery, reusable ice packs to keep swelling under control, and a waterproof cast cover (or plastic bags and medical tape) to keep your stitches and dressing dry when you bathe.
For the first two weeks post-surgery, you’ll essentially be housebound as you focus on keeping your foot elevated as much as possible throughout the day. So what’s the best way to relax, keep your weight off your foot, and avoid boredom? Create an ultra-comfortable recovery zone that has everything you need within reach.
Figure out where you’d like to spend most of your waking hours. If you’ll be sitting on a chair or sofa rather than a bed, make sure there’s an ottoman or coffee table so you can keep your foot elevated. You’ll also need extra pillows to ensure your foot is higher than your heart — think “toes at the level of your nose.”
Find a nearby place to keep your television remote, your phone and its charger, your glasses, any books or magazines you want to read, and whatever else you use often; make sure there’s also a clear surface where you can set your beverages and meals.
Although you can expect to spend most of your first two weeks of recovery sitting in a chair with your foot elevated, you’ll need to be able to maneuver through your space with ease whenever you do walk around.
Create an open path through your living space that’s wide enough to accommodate crutches. This may mean moving a few extra pieces of furniture from your main recovery area into a spare room; you should also consider relocating any floor lamps, electronics, or any area rugs that could trip you up.
You should also make sure you have a clear, open path between your main recovery space and your bathroom, kitchen, bedroom, front door, and any other area you may need to access in the first two weeks.
Unless you live in a ranch-style house or a first-floor apartment, chances are there’s at least a few stairs in your home that you’ll have to navigate. While short staircases with three or four stairs generally don’t pose much of a problem, longer staircases can be a real issue, especially if you have to go up and down several times a day.
What to do? If your bedroom or home office is upstairs, but your kitchen and main recovery zone is downstairs, consider creating a temporary sleep space, home office, or anything else you may need on the first floor. Single-floor living will make your life a lot easier when recovery is your main concern.
This one may seem like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how many people forget to stock their pantry and refrigerator just before they head into surgery. No matter what other loose ends you’re busy wrapping up in the days before your procedure, make sure you get to the grocery store for one last big shop.
If you normally buy groceries once a week, double up on your usual provisions so you’ll have enough food to get through your initial two-week recovery period. Preparing nutritious meals that can be frozen and reheated later is also helpful, as is buying ready-made meals and other foods that require very little preparation.
Unless you have a partner or an adult son or daughter living with you, you’ll need to reach out to one or two dependable family members and friends to ensure you have reliable assistance as you recover.
On top of checking on your day-to-day needs, the people in your support network can help you get to and from your doctor appointments and deal with unavoidable errands or chores.
Remember to add Arizona Foot and Ankle Medical Center to your list of contacts, and don’t hesitate to call us any time you have a question or concern — we’re always ready to help.
To learn other ways you can set yourself for optimal recovery following bunion surgery, call our Laveen, Arizona office or book an appointment online today.