Is bunion surgery right for you? We get this question a lot, and with good reason: bunions are a very, very common problem, especially among women who are middle-aged and older, and unfortunately many of them resist the notion of getting surgery until the deformity becomes too large, or finding a pair of shoes that fits and doesn’t cause severe pain becomes too difficult.
Dr. Harvey Danciger in Palm Desert, CA offers a full range of treatments to help you manage your bunion pain. That said, while we can offer you our recommendation about whether or not surgery is your best chance at relief from discomfort and pain, ultimately you will have to make the decision about when the time is right. Below, we have some things for you to consider.
Have You Fully Explored Conservative Treatment?
At our office, we always exhaust conservative treatments before suggesting surgery. These may include options such as laser therapy, stretching exercises, protective padding, orthotics, modifications to footwear, massage, and more. Most people who seek help early find such methods more than sufficient to keep their bunion pain to a minimum. It’s only when the problem is ignored for a long period of time that surgery becomes the best choice.
Recovery Takes Time
There’s no way around this one. For a relatively minor surgical procedure, full healing time may take around 6 weeks; for more major surgery, it may be more like 6 months. Your body needs time to regain full strength, and during that transitionary period you will likely require at least a few weeks of no or limited weight bearing, followed by several weeks or months of reduced activity. Trying to do too much, too soon can delay healing or even cause new problems.
This can be an especially difficult problem for those with jobs require them to do a lot of standing, walking, and/or lifting. It may be worth waiting a little while until you can take a little vacation time, or asking your boss if you can temporarily switch to less physically demanding tasks. On the other hand, when pain is severe, doing nothing at all may not be a viable option.
Your Home Environment and Support System Matter
Keeping off your feet is about more than just re-arranging your work responsibilities, though. The more you can keep the weight off, the better the healing will be.
One of the best things for your recovery is having a partner willing and able to help you in those first few days and weeks with daily tasks like cooking, cleaning, shopping, and the like. This could be a spouse or significant other, sibling, child, parent, friend, or other care provider. It may be worth putting off surgery for a little while if you need time to coordinate with someone so that they have time to help you.
Whether or not you have a partner, you can also re-arrange your home to make tasks more convenient. Sleep downstairs for a while so you aren’t climbing up and down all the time. Move frequently used items to accessible areas. Make sure all your pathways are clear.
What Kind of Life Do You Want to Live?
We understand that surgery can be scary, but so is the thought that your mobility and quality of life will continue to diminish over years (or even decades!) from untreated bunion pain. Viewed in this context, a 6-month recovery period is a very small price to pay for getting your life back, and being able to do the things you love once again after years of pain.
Every case is different. The decision to go under the knife is one that must be carefully considered and discussed between doctor and patient. That said, if we recommend surgery, it’s because we truly believe that it is your best option for a healthy, happy, pain-free future.
To discuss bunion treatment options with Dr. Danciger, please request an appointment online, or give our office a call at 760-568-0108.