Week 1: The most important week: The first week after bunion surgery you should expect to spend most of the time resting with her foot elevated. Especially the first 3-4 days it is critical to keep her foot elevated to decrease swelling and pain. Often patients experience very little pain during this period if they keep the swelling to a minimum by elevation. Pain pills should be taken if necessary.
FAILURE TO KEEP THE FOOT ELEVATED DURING THE FIRST WEEK CAN RESULT IN SWELLING, PAIN, HEMATOMA, AND INFECTION AND NOT ONLY SIGNIFICANTLY INCREASE THE RECOVERY BUT ALSO PLACE THE FOOT AT RISK.
Week 2: This is probably the most difficult time after foot surgery. Usually the patient feels very good and wants to start doing things. This is not wise. The patient generally experiences swelling and pain when the foot is placed on the floor for any length of time. This is nature telling you to get off the foot and let it rest. Continued elevation is recommended during this time. Therapy such as ice, range of motion exercises, compression devices are all recommended during this time. We also used electrical stimulation in our office to help speed recovery. The dressing is often left on during this time as well. The incisions may not be entirely healed.
Week 3: During this week your sutures will be removed. Elevation is still recommended but not to the degree required during the first 2 weeks. Compression stockings are a good idea at this stage to keep the swelling down and allow increased activity. Ice 2 or 3 times a day for 20 or 30 minutes also is very helpful. Medication such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories are a good idea at this stage. Usually a patient can be up on the foot about an hour at a time during this week. Some patients can return to normal shoes if they are loose.
Week 4: During this week the patient it’s a little more freedom and is usually able to go to the store for short periods of time and gradually increase the time on the foot. Physical therapy should be continued during this time to decrease swelling and preserve range of motion.
Week 5: More activity is tolerated and allowed
Week 6: Generally return to normal activities of daily living and light exercise. Full time on the foot is usually tolerated.
Week 8: Usually there are no further restrictions in activity by week 8.