Recovery after foot surgery can be extremely variable. It will depend on the exact type of foot procedure the patient has undergone. Recovery also depends on what types of physical activities the patient desires to undertake.
For example, if a patient has a midfoot or subtalar fusion (fusing the heel bone to the ankle bone) then they will be non-weightbearing in a cast with assist device (crutches, knee scooter) for 8 weeks, followed by progressive weight bearing in a CAM boot for 4 weeks. They will therefore be able to walk in a loosely laced shoe by 12 weeks, but only for simple, regular activities of daily living. It will take about 5-6 months for the patient to return to any type of exercise or impact activity.
In contrast, if a patient undergoes a Chevron bunionectomy (where the first metatarsal is cut and shifted) then they can walk in a hard sole sandal within 3-4 days of surgery. They are seen in the office at 1 week to have the dressing changed, at 2 weeks for suture removal and toe strapping, at 4 weeks for strapping, and at 6 weeks for strapping. At 6 weeks the patient begins wearing a toe spacer during the day and bunion brace at night (which is done for 4 weeks) to protect the ligament repair, along with weaning back into a wide toe box, sneaker type shoe. The patient should expect some degree of foot swelling for 4 months since the foot is the lowest part of the body and thus, the anatomical area that is most subject to the effects of gravity. Women can usually expect to wear heels at 3 months. Patients can begin stationary bike and swimming at 6 weeks, running/aerobics/sport activities at 3 months.
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