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My Excellent Toe Surgery Adventure - Hallux Rigidus, Plate/Screw Fusion, and Osteotomy - Page 40

post #1171 of 1572

Hey Brooke. I'm sorry to hear that you're still in pain and lacking sleep. I hope that resolves itself soon. I'm just hoping to get into a boot. Honestly, I don't know what to expect. I'm glad that you're getting out. That ought to help. For now, getting out for me is standing at the opened front door, smelling the air and looking at the sky. That's another reason I'm looking forward to going to the doctors. Enjoy your time out tonight.

post #1172 of 1572
HI Brooke and Bootstrap,
My surgery was 10/29, so just a few days before yours. Originally, my doc said no work for two weeks, NWB for six. Went for second post op visit on 11/10...so 12 days post op. X-rays show fusion looking good and he said I'm healing very well, so he took my stitches out and told me I could go back to work. I don't sleep worth a crap, and elevating doesn't help in that regard. I still elevate anytime I'm sitting...which is most of the time, or in bed, which frankly sucks! I am a data geek..so I sit at a desk at a computer all day long ( with my foot on my desk), so I was working from bed after four days when the boredom clicked in and the pain wore off. Still have boot on..never had a cast. Again, every doc is different. Tonight has been rough for some reason and am having shooting pains in my foot. I hate the fuzz the hydro codone puts in my head, so have been taking ibuprofen only. Time to take more and try to sleep again...

Good luck and good healing to you both! This is an adventure for sure, but listening to all the feedback makes me know that we all have a bond, we are all a bit the same and a bit different, but it's nice to have a variety of perspectives for hope.
post #1173 of 1572
Hi Grammadiesel, that is wonderful news!!! I'm so happy for you. I'd give anything to skip the cast and go straight to a boot. I'm in some big padded splint and it's very uncomfortable. Obviously I'm not sleeping worth a crap either. Which foot did you have done? Mine is the right so I can't drive. It was nice to get out of the house tonight but I hate to depend on people for rides and it's not easy getting me and the scooter in and out of the house, car, and wherever we are going. I'm blessed with a lot of great, supportive friends who have been there for me through this whole thing, yet they have to be tired of hearing about my toe! Haha! I wouldn't wish this on anyone however, it is so nice chatting with you all and going through this together. Time to make another attempt at sleeping...ugh!
post #1174 of 1572
I had the right done also. So the first 12 days, dependent on husband. I think he's getting tired of me being helpless, because I am usually very independent. On the other hand...in some ways he's loving me being the sweet helpless girl he married. I've kind of evolved and am hating going backwards! I'm lucky in that two neighbors work at the same place I do...and one is a dear friend also, so she has been taking me to work for two days. And my husband works a half block from me, so he takes me home. Yes, it is a pain relying on others and I feel like a giant mooch! I'm trying to figure a way to drive left footed! But I drive a standard jeep...so can't even hoist myself into it, even if it didn't take two feet. Husband's car has a big console, so no way to get right foot out of the way. Right now I'm less concerned about getting to work, because that worked itself out, and more concerned with buying groceries..because even though I was prepared...there are some things you just need to replenish! Oh well...this too shall come to an end! Okay..one more try for sleep. Gotta get up in an hour for work! ( bright side is...if I called in sick, Boss would understand!)
post #1175 of 1572

Hey Brooke and grammadiesel.  I agree with the fact that it's good that we share the bond of being close in post-ops together and can share where we are in this. Grammadiesel, I wanted to ask you if your doctor told you to keep elevating after you got your stitches out, or if you do it yourself to relieve the pain, because this elevating thing is wearing thin? I share how you feel in the sense that I'm feeling guilty that I feel burdensome, even though I'm doing as much as I can to be independent. I can't do the pain pills and have actually managed to get some decent sleep, by turning on my side, while still elevating. The other question I have is, does that mean that you can walk in your boot without crutches, after six weeks? Pretty much the only pain I feel now is when I move my foot, I can feel a little pain over the surgery spot itself. My back hurts more from this elevating, than my foot. I'm glad you and Brooke have been able to get out. I hope that both of you get some much needed rest and your pain subsides.

post #1176 of 1572
I got about 4 hrs sleep off and on. Not near enough!!! I tried going longer between pain pills but I'm not ready for that. My dr explained to me that the pain comes from swelling and the best way to keep it down is ice and elevation. Didn't sound like it had to be done for a certain amount of weeks but more "as needed" if having pain. She also said I could walk once I get in a boot but I may want to continue to use the walker, crutches, or cane. Maybe there will be more definite answers at the follow up appt but I have a feeling it's mostly based on how we heal and adjust. Another reason I am thankful for this thread, I feel like I've learned so much! I tried to do about 15 minutes of yoga/ pillates today (all floor exercises) and it felt great. I agree, elevating all the time can wreak havoc on other areas of the body. I'm anxious to hear what you all find out at your f/u appts.
post #1177 of 1572

I hope you got some rest and are feeling better today. I wanted to let you know that when I started having issues with my right toe my surgeon took x-Rays of my left toe. I had first stage hallux rigidis in it and she told me I had a good 10 years left on it. I had the second surgery 12 years ( and 12 triathlons) later.

It might be worth it to get an x-ray of your other great toe so you have a baseline.
post #1178 of 1572
Thanks msdivinedc, you are absolutely right. I'm wondering if maybe they did x-ray both when I first went to Washington University. I'll have to check my records and see. If not I talk to the Dr at my next apt.
post #1179 of 1572
Well crap, they only x-rayed the right 😞
post #1180 of 1572
I continue elevating partly because it feels better up than down, and partly because throughout most these posts, people have said continuing to elevate helps relieve pain and swelling. Didn't ask the doc (that was dumb-huh!). As for progression of my ordeal: at 12 days doc said I'm healing well, took out stitches. Told me that in two weeks (4 post op) I can begin heel walking with boot and crutches at 20% of my weight. After one week of that I can progress to "full weight" on the heel with or without crutches as tolerated. Next follow up appt is at six weeks post op, so I'm to have X-rays and take a shoe...be prepared to walk out, but we'll decide after looking at X-rays. Shocked me. Because originally he said six weeks NWB. He was surprised at how well I was healing and how good my X-rays looked at 12 days. And said it is all dependent on pain. If it hurts (after 5 weeks) don't do it!

I may try sleeping without elevation tonight. If it doesn't hurt or swell...and I sleep...hallelujah!

Happy healing!
post #1181 of 1572

Thank you grammadiesel for that info. I know that we all heal at different rates and I've really been following the doctors instructions to the letter. I'm hoping that I'm as fortunate as you and get liberated asap, up and walking. I'm very happy for you and your speedy healing process. I'm getting my stitches out next week. I'm not sure how its going to work out for me, because my second toe was pinned along with the big toe fusion. Good luck with that walking.

post #1182 of 1572

Hey Brooke. I'm glad to her that you're at least getting some sleep. I've read the posts about your other toe. The good thing for you is that it sounds as though you have some time to go, before you'll have go through this again. That will give you a nice break. I have to get my other toe fixed, because it hurts just as bad. I chose to get the right foot fixed first, because it needed more work and I knew that it might take a little longer. It's funny, but as I think about getting the other toe fixed, I'm trying to think of the best time to do it. Really, there is never a convenient time to go through this. I suppose my decision will be based on withstanding the pain when I walk, balanced with how long this foot takes to heal and how soon I jump back into confinement. I'll just have to wait and see. Sleep well.

post #1183 of 1572
Here's to a good nights sleep and hopefully good news for all 😁
post #1184 of 1572
Hi, Bootstrap. My wrapped foot went into the Ankilizer II boot (Google it) immediately after surgery. NWB for four weeks and then I was allowed to walk within home. At six weeks I could walk outside of home. I expected to be out of the boot at 8 weeks but X-ray did not show total fusion so I was in the boot for 11 weeks. The doctor said that my second surgery could be 5 months after the first. I hope that this is helpful to you. I'm healthy but 67 so maybe healing takes longer at my age. Good luck with your recovery!
post #1185 of 1572
Originally Posted by Brooke B View Post

Well crap, they only x-rayed the right 😞

Don't let this worry you Brooke. Concentrate on healing your toe that was just fused now, and talk to your doc about getting your other toe x-rayed at your next appt.

Hopefully it's in good shape and you'll have good news to look forward too!
post #1186 of 1572

Thank you for that info. GrandmaC.  My bandaged foot was placed into a flat, wood bottomed, type of shoe. I read my instructions, after my surgery, which read: NWB for five weeks. I have my first post-op appt. this week. My ideal hope would be stitches out and being placed into a boot, but I really don't know what to expect. I'll look up that boot that you've mentioned. My second toe is pinned and I don't know how long that has to stay in there. My foot overall, is feeling pretty good, but that's with NWB. I'm not experiencing much if any pain in my fused big toe. I'm going to be in a cautiously optimistic state, while waiting for my appointment. How's your foot feeling now that you're walking around? Do you still have to elevate at all, after walking? Glad you're doing well.

post #1187 of 1572
Hi All,

This is my first time on a blog but I have found this very informative. I've suffered with hallux rigidus in both toes for years. Thought they were "bunions" because that was what my mother told me! The doctor I'm seeing believes she probably had the same, untreated condition. Well, I'm WAY TOO ACTIVE (60 years young) to let this go on any longer. The pain is unbelievable! Of course, you know that. My fusion surgery is schedule for the left foot on December 7th. I'll have an injection on the right toe at the same time to "calm it" until I decide to get it fixed next Fall. I'm told I will walk out of surgery with a heel only walking boot that I'll wear for at least 4 weeks; after that it's expected I'll be full weight bearing but still in a boot for another 4 weeks. I'm a little anxious - more about the inactivity I face since I'm a motion machine! All of your advice and thoughtful comments on your experiences is very helpful in my mental preparation for this journey.
post #1188 of 1572
Hi GolfingQueen and welcome! I really found the people on this blog to be the biggest help and support for all the anxiety I was having. And happy to report that most of it is gone now that the surgery is over (a week ago yesterday). So I'm still very new to the inactivity part but the first week has gone by fast. The pain scared me the most and has been the least of my problems. I've had more trouble with the meds and not being able to sleep. Have been taking less the last few days and sleeping and feeling much better now. Overall this has been so much easier than I had anticipated. I'm still nwb for another 5 weeks though and then in a boot for 6. Keeping a positive attitude may be my biggest challenge over the next 11 weeks but one day at a time. I was able to bring my dogs home today and a friend walked them while I followed behind on my knee walker. Definitely didn't picture myself it scooting around the neighborhood just a week after surgery. I might be a little sore tomorrow but it felt amazing!!! Hope this site will be as helpful to you as it has been for me.
post #1189 of 1572

Welcome GolfingQueen. You, like the rest of us, have found a good posting site filled with a lot of good information and support from others that have been through this. I'm glad to hear that you'll be in a heel, weight bearing walking boot. I have not been as fortunate, but I will trust that my doctor knows what's best for me, as we all have to do, for each of us. As far as the anxiety with being less active, well, it's hard for me being an active person myself. The toughest part of this so far, has been the elevation confinement since my surgery, but it has paid off for the pain and swelling, big time. The only discomfort I feel is a little achy feeling at my top toe joint that still moves. Other than that, I feel pretty good. I am post-op 10 days. On Wednesday, I will find out my fate with my first post-op appointment. Everybody on this site already knows this, but we all heal at different rates. I've discovered that the common denominator for how soon one returns to walking, is how soon their toe fuses. I wish you well on your journey and if I can help you, just give me a shout. There are a lot of people on here to help, that are at different levels of healing. Brooke B. and myself are the two newest.

post #1190 of 1572
Glad to hear that those who recently had toe fusion surgery find this site as useful as I did when preparing for surgery. Bootstrap, I'm 13 weeks post-op and still put my feet up on the ottoman when I sit on the couch, but I did this before surgery also. Today the doctor told me that it takes 6-8 weeks once you are wearing enclosed shoes for the foot to return to normal size. My fused toe is great but the top of my foot is still tender and flexibility is reduced. He told me to wear my running shoes all of the time, no slippers, etc. I can't imagine returning to work like you, Grammadiesel! BrookeB, you are brave to be out on the scooter but watch for bumps! It was too difficult for me to get out of the house for the four weeks I was NWB. GolfingQueen, Good luck with your upcoming surgery. My big test will be navigating airports next Sunday when we fly to Atlanta to visit our son and his family. Happy healing to all.
post #1191 of 1572

Wow - thanks for all of the good wishes and great information too!  I'll definitely keep in touch.  Right now I'm focused on staying in good physical shape so I can tolerate the upcoming weeks of inactivity.  My fitness instructor will help me with NWB workouts (upper body only) once I feel up to it.  I am curious about a couple of things:  how are you able to shower with bandages and a boot?  how soon afterwards could you drive (I'm having the left foot done this time).  Has anyone had other muscular issues related to how you were walking before surgery?  Because I protect my toe joints so much when I walk by walking on my heels and side of my feet, especially on the left I almost feel like I've pulled a tendon at the knee. Ugh!  Actually looking forward to getting this repaired especially since all you are doing so well.  Thanks again!

post #1192 of 1572
Hi, Golfing Queen. I wasn't allowed to shower for the first four weeks so became very good at sponge bathing at my sink and washing my hair over the bathtub. My left toe was fused and I started driving at week 6-7 when I was allowed outside of the house without the knee walker. I think that I walked normally prior to surgery somcan't help you there. You might need PT when you start walking again. Be sure that you adjust your knee walker before your surgery. About day 3 or 4 my hip started hurting; I lowered my knee walker to the lowest possible position (I'm 5'6"), started doing leg/hip exercises on my bed, and my problem was solved. I'm getting my right knee checked tomorrow as it still hurts and I've been out of the boot for three weeks. It will be interesting to see how your doctor handles your recovery.
post #1193 of 1572

Well, I had my first post-op appointment today, on day 12.  My doctor decided to keep the stitches and pin in for another three weeks, due to the swelling and bruising. The plan is to return in three weeks, to have the stitches and the pin removed from my second toe. Then the weight bearing will begin, at 25%, increasing by that percentage per week,for the following four weeks. So hopefully I'll be walking in a shoe in 7-8 weeks from now, at 100% weight bearing. I will not be in a boot. So now my count down restarts. At least I did pretty well on the crutches today and plan on getting out more. Just being outside is helpful to me.


Hi GolfingQueen.  As far as showers, they sell plastic, waterproof plastic leg/foot bags on several web sites. I don't know if they're made to fit over a boot. Maybe someone on here would be able to help you with that. As far as pain in your legs is concerned, I will share the following with you. I have been diagnosed with Hallux Rigidus in both of my big toe joints. I didn't know what was wrong with me, until I looked up my symptoms and went to the doctors, who confirmed it. I was walking on the outside of my feet as you mentioned. The leaning towards the outside of my feet made the ball portion of my feet to begin to swell and cause pain from the inflammation. Walking on the outside of my feet changed my gait when I walked. This caused the pain in my rear calve muscles, my knees, hips and lower back. At times, I would get leg cramps. My job consisted of walking and standing all day. I had my right toe fixed first, because I knew it was going require more work. I wanted to get the worst over with, knowing that the left would be easier. I'm going to try to get both toes fixed with in the same year. Once my walking improves and my gait returns to normal, I believe the other pains will be alleviated.

post #1194 of 1572

Hi Golfing Queen,


I had my last toe fusion in December, 2012. It was my left toe (I had my right toe fused 12 years before). I didn't encounter any other muscular issues prior to surgery. When I was in the boot I made sure to buy shoes that were the same height so my right hip wouldn't bother me. That helped during recovery. I never used a knee walker as I preferred the boot. As for showers, I purchased a waterproof plastic bag that went over the cast when I was wearing one for about a week or so and that helped, otherwise I just took off the boot. Also, once I was out of the boot I found I could only wear Uggs. I couldn't fit my foot into a sneaker as it was swollen for a while.


You are smart to focus on remaining physically fit until your surgery, I did the same thing and I believed it helped me a lot.

post #1195 of 1572
Sorry to hear that your countdown starts over, Bootstrap, but sounds like you are still in line with the average time to start walking again. Tuesday is my 2 week follow up. I will keep you all posted. I've already been told NWB for 6 weeks so not expecting anything different. I have been taking baths and just hanging my leg over the tub. So far so good, I haven't accidentally dunked my bandaged leg yet. It's not comfortable but it works. I too was walking on the side of my foot for a long time. Had pain on the top,side and in my ankle. Hoping all will go away when I can walk normally again. I've also had back, hip and knee pain and not sure if that's old injuries/arthritis in nature or a result walking funny. Guess I shall see! I'm still getting out a little here and there but am being much more careful after a few tumbles. Turns out I'm a bit of a clutz on crutches and I've missed the pad a few times when getting on the scooter. So as good as it feels...please be careful! I worked from home for the first time for a few hours today and am feeling a little better everyday.
post #1196 of 1572
First time to post but have been reading and gathering information for awhile. This site has given great real life experiences. I had my first surgery on my left big toe eleven years ago. At that time, I was going in for a cheilectomy. However, when I awoke from surgery I was told that my joint was worse than the xrays indicated. The surgeon performed microfrature surgery in addition to the cheilectomy. I was 34 years old. He told me that this was not my last surgery and that one day I would need to get my joint fused. He gave me 5-7 years.

Well, eleven years later I am now facing that surgery. I am scheduled January 20th. I am nervous. I am a mom of two, ages 16 and 8. They both rely on me a lot and the recovery time is intimidating. Plus I vividly remember the pain from the last surgery. I know in the big picture this is the right thing to do but nervous nonetheless.

I have seen two orthopaedic surgeons. The surgeon from my first surgery is not covered by my insurance. The first doctor was nice and seemed capable but my gut said to keep looking. The second surgeon made me feel more at ease and confident. I have a pre-op appointment two weeks prior to my surgery and because of this great site I have some questions to ask that I had not yet thought of.

Hope those who are currently in the recovery process are healing well.
post #1197 of 1572

Welcome Pjp45! You have come to the right place for support :). I had a very similar experience to yours. I had a cheilectomy when I was 39 and it didn't do anything for me so a year later I had a fusion in my right big toe. It worked like a charm (just two screws). My surgeon told me I had 10 years left on my left toe. 12 years (and 12 triathlons later) I had a fusion performed in December of 2012 and I'm glad I did. I have 7 screws and a plate in the left toe. I'm now back to training and expect to race starting next March.


Try not to focus on the recovery time too much otherwise it will seem overwhelming. In my experience(s) I had bad pain 2 days post-op because the block had worn off and then it was a matter of taking it one day at a time. During the first week I took vicodin and advil to reduce swelling and after that I was off the meds.


 My recovery time the second time was actually better than the first, in that my surgeon had me in the boot for about a month and a half (the first time I was in it for 3 months and even slept in it)! I followed doctor's orders and laid low because I was really worried my toe(s) might not fuse but at month 3 both times, they looked great. I'm lucky that I have great bones otherwise so my surgeon didn't expect any complications. I had the surgery done at a time when I knew I would have a lot of down time anyway so I just took it easy.


One side note, the second time she gave me a prescription for vitamin D which I took for the first month. She said studies have showed this helps with the healing process. Also, if you are in a cast for a while (I was for about a week and a half) they do sell plastic wraps for casts. I used crutches for about 2 weeks and then was in a boot. I never used a knee scooter but some have and have found it helpful.



post #1198 of 1572
Good point CC, I started taking a calcium/Vitamin D supplement about 2 months before surgery and still on it now. They tested my vit d level a few weeks before I. It was in the normal range so I was good to go.
post #1199 of 1572

Hi everyone,


I'm Helen and I'm an active 57 year old from Canberra, Australia. I don't ski, but I love to cycle, go to the gym, and am in perpetual motion from morning to night.  


I had my left big toe fusion on 27 October - just a couple of days ahead of @grammadiesel - and not much more ahead of @Bootstrap and @Brooke B.  So I'm 26 days out now and have spent the last three days reading this entire thread.  I am so grateful to Bob for starting it, and to all that followed over that time.  It has been helpful - and levelling - for me to read your stories and your advice, and watch your progress in condensed time!  


I'll add some photos, but I went straight into a boot that places all your weight on the heel.  After one night in hospital I came home to bed rest, elevation and a drug regime of the usual stuff you've all mentioned.  Some nausea on Day 2 and 3, but no pain to speak of so I weaned myself off the heavy stuff on to paracetamol as needed.  One thing I had that I haven't seen mentioned anywhere else (that I recall) is a 20 day series of blood thinning injections.  while I've never been one to be squeamish about such things, I handed this task over to my 17yo daughter, who seemed to quite enjoy the job...


I pretty much stayed in bed for the first two weeks with foot on pillows and me perpetually attached to the computer. In my drug hazed mind, it was the perfect opportunity to finally get on top of all those emails, but I'm sure I drove my colleagues completely nuts :rolleyes


Anyway the stitches came out at the two week mark and my surgeon said I was 'making it look easy'. In hindsight that was probably more to do with the fact that I couldn't think of any questions for him, rather than anything else. I wish I'd read this thread before that visit, I'd have had a million!! :)


Two days later I had to head into work for a half day thingy, but kept my foot elevated and then straight home.  That weekend, I think I overdid things a little "pottering" around the house, but then headed back to bed and elevation.  I had two solid days at work (days 23 and 24) but tried to elevate onto a chair as much as possible. I think that over-exertion was probably responsible for some pretty nasty shooting pains around the wound site the next day, so I've been in bed the last two days.  Of course, as Bootstrap says, that plays havoc with other bits of the body.  My biggest problem has been my glutes, which are killing me.  


I've seen a physiotherapist twice now and will keep going weekly.  I think this is what you guys refer to as a PT?  She's been great for encouraging me to move my toes, including the top of my big toe.  It was nearly impossible the first visit, but better at the second and I'm trying to keep it up at home.  She also used an ultrasound device on my foot to loosen things up.


My next appointment with the surgeon is at the 6 week mark and I'm hoping (not too optimistically I hope) to be out of the boot then. A week later I head (with my 17 yo) to New York City to spend Christmas and New Year with my older daughter and I know the travel is going to be a big challenge - so I'll do everything right now and keep the fingers and toes crossed.;)


I'm so glad I found you all.  I wish all my fellow 'foot travellers' a speedy and successful recovery.


Photos are Day 2, Day 16 and today - Day 26



post #1200 of 1572
Hi Helen and welcome! Thanks for sharing your story! Your foot looks really good...Haha never really thought I'd be saying that to someone 😀 I'm dying to see mine at my apoointme t this week. I was really glad to hear that your therapist recommends moving your toes. I have been doing this constantly, no idea why, they just want to move. Even the tip of the big one. I was worried I might be causing trouble with healing by doing that!
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