A bunion is a deformity of the foot that occurs at the point where your big toe connects to your foot. A bump forms around the joint, which can become painful and impedes mobility. A bunionectomy is the term used to describe surgery that excises the bunion from your foot. Bunionectomy may also be referred to as an exostectomy. The time frame for weight bearing on your affected foot after a bunionectomy varies and is decided by your doctor based on your condition and the extent of your surgery.
Having straightforward bunion surgery--removing the bunion without the need for extensive repairing of the ligaments and joint of your big toe--increases the chances that you'll be able to begin partial weight-bearing on your foot soon after your procedure. A bunionectomy is an hour-long outpatient procedure in most cases. Most people who have a simple bunionectomy can go home within a couple hours post-surgery. You most likely will be in enough pain that you won't want to, and may be advised not to bear weight on your foot immediately, but over the course of the next few days, you can gradually bear partial weight. Limitations to early weightbearing include driving: you will not be able to drive for about a week after bunion surgery. If you've sustained more serious damage to your foot, you may require more time off your feet and will be advised of such by your doctor.
Walkers, crutches and canes are mobility aids that can help you get around immediately following bunion surgery. For the first day or so, you may need to use the crutches without bearing weight on your foot, but over the course of the first week, you should be able to progressively put more weight on your foot and use the crutches as a support only until you feel you no longer need them. Even if you can walk without the help of mobility aids within the first week after a bunionectomy, don't push yourself. According to NYU's Hospital for Joint Diseases, walking and standing too much in the early days can hamper recovery.
Special shoes or boots that support your foot and help you feel more comfortable during weight bearing are usually prescribed by your doctor immediately after surgery. One type of post-operative boot is called a Darco shoe and accommodates the swelling you'll have post-bunionectomy. Within a month after your surgery, barring complications, you probably will be ready to wear regular shoes when walking. Sneakers or other sturdy, boxy-toed shoes are appropriate for bunion surgery patients because they are roomy. One of the main causes of bunions is wearing shoes that don't fit right or are too pointy and pinch your toes.
A bunionectomy is a term that may be used broadly to describe bunion removal, when in reality there are more than 100 types of bunion surgery. Speak to your doctor about the type of surgery you'll be having before the operation, in order to have realistic expectations about your weight-bearing guidelines after surgery.