Surgery is never a pleasant experience and bunion surgery is no exception. This procedure tends to be very invasive and results in a slow healing and recovery process. Exercises are crucial after this type of surgery, as your big toe joint will get very stiff; without regular stretching, you could lose range of motion and experience extensive scar tissue build-up.
First and Second Week After Surgery
The first few days after surgery your foot will be very swollen. During this time, be sure to keep it elevated. Take the medications prescribed by your doctor and also ice your foot per the instructions received from your doctor; doing this will aid in the healing process. Whatever you do, do not put any weight on your foot, as your foot is trying to heal both internally and externally.
Third to Fifth Week After Surgery
At the beginning of the third week of your recovery, you should be able to do some assisted range of motion exercises. This exercise is done by grabbing the big toe joint and flexing the toe up until it you feel some discomfort. Hold the toe in this position for ten seconds, slowly release the toe and then repeat two more times. The second exercise requires you to flex the toe downward, still grasping the big toe joint. Hold the toe in this downward position for ten seconds, slowly release the toe and then repeat two more times. These exercises should be done three times a day through the fourth week of recovery. Beginning in the fifth week, increase the frequency of each exercise to six times a day and also begin to pull the toe farther up and downward as tolerated. This helps increase the range of motion in the big toe joint.
Seventh Week and Beyond
On the seventh week, you will be able to being weight bearing exercises, using gravity as your "weight." Begin by standing on both feet. Hold onto a wall or door frame while slowly leaning forward on the surgery foot. Lift your heels off the ground and leave your big toes on the floor like you are trying to reach something above your head. Hold this position for ten seconds or as long as you can tolerate it. Other exercises to help gain back full range of motion are climbing stairs or walking up hills. Be sure to stop when your body tells you to, as your foot will still not be ready for strenuous activities (brisk walking, jogging, playing sports, etc) for an extended period of time.