From conservative management to surgical consultation.
For some, it is an almighty jump from seeing your podiatrist to seeing a surgeon regarding a painful bunion or hammertoe deformity, whereas for others, it seems like a more logical solution. Every person and their circumstances are different. Regardless of circumstance, it is always advised to seek conservative opinions on managing toe deformities first. A podiatrist can utilize conservative management measures to improve mobility and reduce pain. Measures might include padding, orthoses, splints, footwear modification and exercises to reduce the muscle imbalances that cause these deformities to begin with. Once these measures have been exhausted without improvement, only then, your podiatrist will recommend a surgical opinion.
Education on risks and benefits of forefoot and toe surgery is the next critical step your podiatrist will play a role in. Consultation with your podiatrist and surgeon should involve careful assessment of pain and its impact on your daily activities, the potential surgical outcomes and risks specific to the proposed surgical procedure and a discussion on realistic improvements in quality of life post-surgery, if surgery is indeed an option for you.
"A podiatrist can utilize conservative management measures to improve mobility and reduce pain."
Common expectations for surgical outcomes include pain relief, improved mobility, improved shoe fitting and cosmetic improvement. There is definitely room to tick all of these boxes however surgical patients need to be aware, the recovery period can be just as critical as the surgical procedure itself in producing positive long term outcomes.
Depending on the complexity of the surgical procedure you undertake, you may be in hospital for a few hours, a whole day or overnight. Regardless of this always have help at home for afterwards. After surgery, rest is strongly advised initially so having home help whether it be a friend or family member will be crucial to ensuring you aren’t over doing in before the procedure has even had a chance to heal.
To improve mobility and help reduce complications of any forefoot surgery, it is important to also discuss a rehabilitation plan with your Podiatrist before and after the procedure. Rehabilitation will involve undertaking specific mobility and strengthening foot exercises both under supervision of your Podiatrist and at home.
Finally, be realistic about your recovery time. For example in most cases of bunion or hammertoe surgery, you will be required to wear a post-operative boot for up to five to six weeks following surgery. After that, your first transition is usually into a comfortable jogger with plenty of room in the toe box area. Further to that, it may be six months before you are able to wear fashionable footwear again and in some instances, this may not be recommended.