10 answers

Bunion Surgery Left Me with "Stiff Toe"

Hi Ladies!
I had bunion surgery about 61/2 weeks ago. I was very good about "working" my toe to avoid stiff toe, but the Dr. seems to think my range of motion isn't good enough. Unfortunately, it really impacts the way I walk (limp!) and is still sore. I'm trying to avoid the Physical Therapy my Dr. recommended (who has time 3x a week for 3 weeks!)So, I was wondering if anyone had a similar problem & knew any excercises I could do? I have been going in the pool often in the last week, but don't know how to loosen it up! Any help would be much appreciated...

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More Answers

I'm an orthopedic physical therapist and treat patients after bunion surgery all the time. I would recommend you try and get yourself there at least twice per week for a few weeks, as they can do certain stretches and mobilizations of the joint that you can't do at home. If you don't regain your mobility your walking will be impacted and may not return fully - plus you set yourself up for early arthritis in a joint that isn't moving properly. If you let me know where you live, I may be able to recommend a good clinic in your area. Good Luck -

* H.

Go walking on the beach barefoot. And be patient, it takes quite a while to heal and walk normally again.

I had a bunion surgery when I was 17 years old. Ten years later I walk just fine but that toe has never bent the same as it did prior to surgery. For me it has a lot to do with the placement of the screws used to correct the area. The toe doesn't bend due to where the screws were placed. So for me, i'm still "stiff" in that area, though its mostly just that my range of motion is different.

It took me close to 5 mo after surgery to walk normally and without pain. I'm not sure why they tell you it takes only a few weeks ~ they told me I'd be up and walking 2 weeks later... well 8 weeks later I still needed crutches beacuse the bones hadn't healed. Finally at 12 weeks I could walk normally and it was still several weeks after before I had no pain remaining.

Hang in there and do the PT ~ it does help. (and swimming and other water activities do help a lot too). Hope it heals well and that you are pain free soon!

It seems that PT is exactly what you need to regain strength and mobility. My husband had surgery for a ruptured Achilles tendon and notices that when he skips PT he is sore and stiff; when he goes to PT, he is much more flexibile and has more mobility and strength. It will hurt at first but that is how you progress. FACE YOUR FEAR adn good luck!!!

I have bunions (not in pain now though pain free for years, thank God). But I would never ever have bunion surgery! I have heard horror stories which podiatrists & MD's will deny. I knew 2 woman who had it done & said they wished they didn't & tried some other method. I have had foot surgery twice once on both feet but not for bunions. It worked I no longer have pain or issues but it is not as intense as bunion surgery from what I hear anyway.
I would say you better get to a physical therapist because if you don't & keep procrastinating the "stiffness" will only get worse and cause more problems! I know with kids physical therapy is hard & very time consuming but you are better off doing that than having worse problems!

Hi K. - I hear you about the time commitment for Physical Therapy... but in my opinion, that is really the best way to make your toe better and get your range of motion back. It will be over so quicky and you will be so glad you did it. Think of it as only 3 weeks but a real investment in your future health and sanity. A PT dr. will teach you exercises to do on your own once your sessions are over. Think about it - you need to be as mobile as you can, since you need to chase your kids around, grocery shop, etc. If you are in pain or always stiff these everyday tasks will seem overwhelming. I don't have direct experience with this issue, but I'm a very active person and avid exerciser, and I know that when I'm really stiff and sore, the only way to loosen up and get back to normal is to move and challenge myself. It seems really crazy but it works, at least for me. I am not a Physical Therapist by any stretch, though, so I definitely suggest you look into it and see what you can do for your recovery. Good luck with everything!

This may not help - but I had sprained a finger once and couldn't bend it right. After months, finally gave in and saw the ortho. He said I'd have to have physical therapy IF I didn't work on it as follows - as many times a day as possible, at least three - put it in VERY warm water and forcible push on it to extend the range. Yes, there will be some pain (obviously, you have to not hurt yourself). I did this, and it worked and I avoided the physical therapy.

Hi K.,
I am a "retired" PTA. If the doctor believes you need PT thats the route you should take. The choice to have surgery is incredible and he/she wants a great outcome for you and for him - this could be potential referrals for the doctor. Often times after your PT evaluation, the therapist may find that you can cut back on the attendance and will communicate this to the doctor especially if the time committment is an issue on your end. However, as a therapist, I would recommend that you attend rehab - you are young and deserve full range of motion, strength, no limp and a beautiful foot!
A little about me:
SAHM with my own business, married 22 years with 2 beautiful boys 10 & 7.

Okay, I may be a bit biased, but if the doctor recommended PT (that's what I do) maybe you should give it a try. There is no saying after an evaluation that the PT would recommend 3 times per week for 3 weeks anyway. If you go for an evaluation and explain y our time constraints and concerns, the PT can at least work with you a couple of times but give you a home exercise program to follow through with. Your big toe, believe it or not is a very important part of how you walk. If you limp on it for too long, it will begin to effect your hip and knee as well. Your big toe is essential in balance and push off for gait. Please consider at least getting an eval to help yourself out. You m ay think you don't have time... but taking time to take care of yourself will only make you a better Mom in the end if it gives you back your range and makes you pain free!

If you go to PT for the eval you can discuss with the the time you came to the office based on work and commitments.
I had a bone removed from teh bottom of my foot and part of my PT was to pick up marbles with my toes. If hurt for a bit and was odd ofcourse but in the end it was a great exercise. I had to just try to pick them up and then move to picking up and putting in a can.
Simple exercises of moving your toes - scrunching and wiggling.
You should see a PT for more options and they can work with you, insurance and the physician on your PT schedule. Alot of times they doctor needs to pick 3x based on insurance as well as faster recovery time.
If you are on the South Shore - Bay State is a good one. I am almost done with my PT there and I was able to work out based on my schedule...they certainly recommend more time a week for faster recovery as I stated but are quite helpful in all the aspects....doctor, insurance and needs

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