How painful is bunion surgery?

The surprising answer is sometimes not as painful as the bunion.

So often, patients tell us that they’ve had a bunion that has been so painful that they could hardly walk comfortably, let alone exercise. But the thought of surgery, especially since they have convinced themselves that it’s the most painful surgery any human being can undergo, has kept them from talking to a podiatrist about treatment.

There are three things that play a role in the amount of discomfort you will have after bunion surgery:

1. the surgical technique and experience of the surgeon
2. the degree to which you follow the post-op instructions
3. your general pain tolerance

You have control over the first two, and I believe that if you get the first two right, even the person who describes a pain level of 10 out of 10 from a hangnail will find the post-operative course after bunion surgery much LESS uncomfortable than they expected.

If you have a bunion, step one is to see a foot specialist as soon as possible. It’s important to know that just because you have a bunion, it doesn’t mean you need surgery. If it’s not painful or affecting your lifestyle, talk to your podiatrist about options to stay comfortable and keep the bunion from getting worse. If it is painful, there’s no reason to live with it. A foot surgeon can easily correct the bunion, so you can get back to your activities comfortably.

Choosing the right doctor is one of the most important decisions you can make. You want a foot specialist – an experienced and conscientious doctor/surgeon who treats nothing but the foot and ankle; not someone who does them occasionally, but hasn’t dedicated his or her life to treating foot conditions.

At Kansas City Foot and Ankle, that’s all we do, so we are experts at it. Every procedure and technique that we utilize not only has your long-term comfort and success in mind, but your immediate post-operative comfort as well. Through our extensive and focused training and experience in foot and ankle surgery, we have developed surgical techniques as well as post-operative care that keep discomfort to a minimum. Most of our patients are pleasantly surprised regarding any discomfort they have after surgery, compared to what they expected.

We are a team, and YOU play a critical role in staying comfortable after your bunion surgery. The most important thing you can do is to keep the swelling down. Your feet are the lowest point in your body, so if you’re on your feet a lot after surgery, gravity will not be your friend. Keep your feet elevated above your heart as much as possible, use ice as directed by your podiatrist, and while you will be allowed to bear weight and walk after surgery, keep any standing and walking to a minimum, especially for the first few days. By following these instructions, we find that most of our bunion patients no longer need pain medication after the first 48 hours, and just take Tylenol or Advil for any discomfort after that.

If you have a bunion, let the bunion specialists at Kansas City Foot and Ankle discuss the best options for you and your lifestyle, so you can get back to the activities you love, quickly and comfortably.