Pain On Top Of Foot After Bunion Surgery

If you’ve ever had one before, you surely know that the bony bump that protrudes from the base of your big toe is a bunion. Bunions push your toes together and may limit your movement and activity. They can even cause deformities. If you have bunions, you are not alone. This condition is common in older adults, especially women. Some people may even have bunions on both feet.

Because bunions can cause permanent deformities, your doctor may recommend surgery. Unfortunately, it takes a while for your feet to heal after the surgery fully. However, physical therapy in Bedford, TX, can help relieve pain post-surgery and even speed up your recovery.

This article explores recovery after bunion surgery and how physical therapy can help. Kindly read along.

Bunion Overview

A bunion is a bony bump formed on the joint at the big toe's base. That occurs when some of the bones in the front of a foot move out of place. Consequently, the tip of the big toe gets pulled towards the smaller toes, forcing the joint at the big toe's base to stick out.

A bunion could result from heredity, foot injuries, or birth deformities. Furthermore, rheumatoid arthritis, ill-fitting shoes, and high heels are risk factors for getting a bunion. Without removing a bunion, it can lead to further complications like bursitis, metatarsalgia, and hammertoe.

If you notice a bulging bump outside your big toe's base or have limited movement in your big toe, you might have a bunion. Other bunion symptoms include swelling and redness around the big toe joint.

What Is Bunion Surgery?

The only way to permanently eliminate a bunion is through bunion surgery. Bunion surgery is also known as a bunionectomy. It is carried out to remove deformity and reduce pain caused by a bunion.

Usually, a bunionectomy is the last resort in removing a bunion. However, before considering surgery, your doctor may recommend wearing well-fitting, comfortable shoes or using orthotics to provide padding and reposition your big toe. In addition, if your bunion is a result of arthritis, your doctor may prescribe medicines that can help reduce pain and swelling.

If none of the treatments work, your doctor may recommend surgery. But there are different types of bunion surgery. The type of surgery will depend on factors including age, general health, activity level, the condition of your bones, and the bunion's severity.

Types Of Bunion Surgery

There are different techniques your surgeon may apply when carrying out a bunionectomy. These techniques include;


This technique involves the removal of the metatarsal head or bunion bump bulging out from the big toe's base. Usually, surgeons combine an exostectomy with an osteotomy to reposition the toe. In addition, this procedure is generally for mild bunions.


Osteotomy is the most commonly performed bunion surgery. This technique involves realigning the bones or ligaments to relieve pain by restoring the toes to their normal position. The surgeon will realign the big toe joint using screws or pins during an osteotomy.


Arthrodesis is used in patients with the most severe bunions or bunions from arthritis. This technique is a fusion of the bones forming the big toe joint to reduce pain. During the procedure, your surgeon will remove any inflamed parts of the joints. Afterward, the surgeon will place a screw in the toe to hold the bones together.


An implant procedure involves using an artificial joint to replace all or part of the damaged toe joint. This procedure is for severe bunions.

Should You Feel Pain After Bunion Surgery?

After bunion surgery, you may experience swelling, pain, and tightness at the top of your foot. However, these should wear out slowly within six weeks post-surgery. Nevertheless, it is essential to note that you may still have minor swelling and pain for about six months to one year after your bunion surgery.

Your doctor should give you special shoes or place a cast over your foot to keep your toe in the right position and also protect it.

Recovery After A Bunion Surgery

After bunion surgery, it may take over a year for the surgical site to completely heal. That is because bone repair takes at least a year at the cellular level. In addition, because the feet experience more stress than other parts of the body, you tend to feel pain and muscle tightness longer in the feet.

You can speed up recovery and minimize pain from bunion surgery by wearing shoes and sandals at all times, even at home. It is best to wear shoes with built-in arch supports for the first 12 months post-surgery.

Furthermore, take your prescribed medicines and avoid putting weight on the big toe. It is also best to consult your doctor on when to resume activities like walking, biking, or running.

Is Physical Therapy Necessary After Bunion Surgery?

Tightness, inflammation, and delayed wound healing are some of the risks of bunion surgery. But, after the surgery, physical therapy in Bedford, TX, can help with a faster and fuller recovery for maximum improvement. With physical therapy, you will undergo several exercises throughout your recovery phases for the best results.

A physical therapist can use different techniques to improve the range of motion, reduce stress on the big toes, and improve your balance and gait. Furthermore, a physical therapist can use strengthening exercises and assistive devices to speed the surgical wound healing and increase the flexibility of the operated joint.

How Can Physical Therapy Help After Bunion Surgery?

Physical therapy after bunionectomy can help in several ways, including;

Controlling Pain And Swelling

The purpose of bunion surgery is to reduce pain caused by bunions. But post-surgery, you may still feel pain for a while. Physical therapy can focus on controlling pain and tightness post-surgery, speeding up your recovery.

Physical therapists use cryotherapy and electrical stimulation to control pain and swelling. Cryotherapy is cold therapy and involves creating pressure around the foot through an inflatable sleeve. This pressure then decreases soreness and swelling.

On the other hand, electrical stimulation involves applying electrical pulses to the muscles. This technique reduces swelling when applied to your feet. Furthermore, your physical therapist may massage your feet with special techniques to move any fluid that may have developed in the foot.

Gait Training

After bunion surgery, you have to avoid bearing weight on your foot. Your physical therapist can help you move around on crutches during this period. And when your surgeon certifies that you can put weight on your foot, your physical therapist can help you regain your gait.

Your physical therapist in Bedford will also give you instructions and exercises to help control limping after surgery.

Range Of Motion

After bunion surgery, you need to increase movement around your big toe to improve your balance and regain a regular walking pattern. Your physical therapist can use passive stretching techniques and gentle joint movements to improve the range of motion.

Balance And Strength

The muscles in your lower leg become weak and decrease in size after a lengthy period of not bearing weight. And this consequently affects your balance. In addition, weakness affects your ability to walk or navigate stairs.

A physical therapist can use resistance training to improve strength in your lower leg muscles, including your ankle and toe. With balance training, you should regain stability as you move around more often.

During balance and strength training, your physical therapist in Bedford will create a specialized home exercise program for you. This program will become challenging as you regain your strength and balance. Furthermore, suppose you aim to start exercising or running. In that case, your physical therapist may incorporate sport-specific exercises in your home program.

What Are The Phases Of Recovery After Bunion Surgery?

Recovery after a bunion surgery occurs in three phases;

Non-weight bearing: this phase requires you not to place any weight on your operated foot. You may use crutches or a knee scooter during this period. Furthermore, during this stage, your physical therapist will focus on the range of motion and gait training within the restrictions your surgeon places.

Partial weight bearing: during this stage, your surgeon should fit a special boot on your affected foot to allow partial weight bearing. Your surgeon may also tell you to put some weight on your foot while still walking with crutches. Furthermore, during this stage, your physical therapist will continue with gait training and strengthening exercises to speed up your recovery.

Full weight bearing: you can walk without using assistive devices during this stage. Your physical therapist focuses on exercises to normalize your gait pattern and achieve a full range of motion. You will also undergo exercises to wean you from the assistive devices and improve your strength.


Bunion surgery is necessary to relieve pain and prevent deformities. However, recovering from the surgery can be a lengthy process. Fortunately, physical therapy in Bedford at Barkman & Smith Physical Therapy can help relieve pain on the top of your foot post-bunion surgery. Other benefits of physical therapy after bunion surgery are improved gait, mobility, and balance as your foot heals.