Minimally invasive bunion surgeries have revolutionized patient post-operative well-being. These procedures have reduced after-surgery pain, become more convenient, and allowed patients to get back to work or school quickly. So, if you’re wondering “when can I walk after bunion surgery?”, the answer is almost immediately– if you chose minimally invasive surgery. After this type of surgery, patients are often able to walk out of the operating room and drive themselves home!
This is a stark difference from traditional bunion surgeries which often require weeks, if not months, of recovery time. Why is there such a difference? It depends on the techniques used in each surgery type. Here is a closer look at the differences between bunion surgery methods and their respective recovery times for walking:
Types of Bunion Surgeries
Traditional bunion surgery involves a large (5-6 inch) incision along the side of the foot. The surgeon breaks, cuts, removes, and/or realigns the joint or bone back to its proper position. Pins, screws, wires, and plates are used to stabilize it while the bones heal. Due to the intensive nature of this procedure, patients cannot walk normally for over a month and must use crutches or a boot. Pain often persists for months after that.
Minimally invasive surgery involves making a very small incision on the side or top of the foot, removing the bunion, and placing a small bandage to protect the area. This method causes much less trauma to the foot than traditional bunion surgery. Many patients are able to walk immediately after surgery and most are able to go to work the next day. Patients can wear a postoperative shoe for about a week to protect the foot if their doctor recommends it.
When Can I Walk After Bunion Surgery?
As previously mentioned, traditional bunion surgery has much longer recovery times than minimally invasive surgery. Patients of traditional surgery must spend at least 2 weeks off their feet completely and use a protective cast or crutches for the next 3-6 months (until pain when walking subsides). After minimally invasive bunion surgery, patients can often walk immediately due to the minor trauma caused during surgery. Patients often wear a small postoperative shoe for 1 to 5 weeks at most, but they can walk and work normally during this time.
Pain Management After Bunion Surgery
Pain management is another key component of surgery recovery. Traditional bunion surgery patients are often prescribed narcotics for pain, as pain levels can be quite high following surgery. Swelling is common, so elevating the foot with pillows or an ottoman is beneficial.
Conversely, minimally invasive surgery patients are recommended to use over-the-counter painkillers as needed. Pain levels are typically low and can be managed very well with these medications.
If you have been suffering from foot pain, please reach out to the experts at Northwest Surgery Center for help diagnosing or treating your foot condition. We offer minimally invasive surgeries and other treatment options to manage bunions, hammertoes, and heel spurs. With 19 years of experience in ambulatory surgical care, our team is prepared to help alleviate your foot pain and help you reclaim your life.