Big Toe Joint, Hammer Toe & Bunionette Problems:
Big Toe Joint Fusion Recovery Time [Surgery & Best Treatment]
Big toe joint fusion recovery time is generally 2-3 weeks of sutures, surgical dressing, and shoe. Get 100% Better! Then a good running shoe for 6-8 weeks.
- Big toe joint pain can be improved with a few simple treatment changes.
- We are foot doctors & we see this problem get better almost every day.
- The goal is to solve this problem without medication or surgery if possible.
So, let’s GO!
Table of Contents
Bunion Pictures & Photo Gallery:
- The associated photos are pictures of bunions.
- A big toe joint bunion is a prominence of the first metatarsal phalangeal joint.
- A tailor’s bunion is the prominence of the fifth metatarsal phalangeal joint.
- There are multiple stages of bunions ranging from minimal dislocation to severe dislocation to severe dislocation with arthritis.
- It is important to note that the sesamoid bones dislocate from the big toe joint and that the bunion itself is more of a dislocation injury than an arthritic injury.
- Although we frequently see bunions that also have arthritis, and is much more likely.
- We do perform minimally invasive bunion surgery at our clinic to limit the length of recovery time needed.
Please click on the gallery to read the description! Feel free to share pictures.
Big Toe Joint Fusion Recovery Time Overview:
- The length of recovery time depends on the surgeon’s confidence in your ability to heal.
- For example, someone with diabetes that is a smoker will have a much longer healing time than a fit 20-year-old athlete.
- The best-case scenario is approximately 2-3 weeks in a CAM walker or a cast, then a couple of weeks in a good supportive running shoe until the surgeon can see the bone fusing on an X-ray during a checkup visit.
- It can take 6-8 weeks until you start to feel better than before the surgery.
- Big toe joint arthritis can be caused by either a traumatic injury or overuse.
- Overpronation – increases the stress on the joint.
- Repetitive weight-bearing in a dorsiflexed position.
- Traumatic injury such as stubbing the big toe which can cause chondral (cartilage) damage.
- Hypermobile 1st metatarsal.
- Rheumatoid arthritis.
Big Toe Joint Fusion Recovery Time:
This guide will detail the length of specific step-by-step bone spur surgery recovery times.
Big Toe Joint Healing Time:
Day 1: Top of the Foot Spur Removal Surgery Day:
- The actual surgery takes well under an hour, and your foot is usually numbed up for the rest of the day.
- Some people don’t need much if any pain medication outside of anti-inflammatories.
- If you have pain at this site, it is normal to have a prescription for narcotic pain medication immediately after the surgery.
- After surgery, you will wake up with a dressing on your foot. Keep this dressing in place, and your pain will be well under control with medication.
- No implants or bone healing is necessary, except for the healing of bone pain.
- You can wear a boot over your dressing almost immediately.
- Most physically able people do not need crutches or a walker unless they have other health issues.
- Usually, there are about 2 sutures in the foot.
Day 7: Top of the Foot Bone Spur Removal Surgery Postoperative Visit #1:
- Within about a week, we have the first postoperative visit.
- You will have an X-ray at this visit, and we will make sure there is no irritation or damage to your dressing.
- With this dressing change, some antibiotic ointment is applied. We make sure you are not having any problems at this time.
- Sutures are not removed yet at this visit.
- The incision site will stay covered with the stitches in place following the surgery.
Week 2-3: Top of the Foot Bone Spur Removal Surgery Postoperative Visit #2:
- This can fluctuate depending on your overall health needs, physical fitness, and life needs.
- If you can rest more, weigh less, and are really healthy, sutures can usually come out at 2 weeks. Some patients need to walk and be more active. If this is the case, you will likely need sutures longer and have a larger dressing.
- If you swell more and are more tender, they can stay in a little bit longer.
- If you are a smoker or have decreased healing ability, we may need to keep your sutures in place longer.
- At this point, your incision site should be healed.
- At this point, you will wear a band-aid for 2 weeks and walk in a good supportive running shoe.
Week 5: Postoperative Visit #3:
- The incision site will look like after the sutures are removed at 2-3 weeks.
- If everything looks good, you no longer need to wear a band-aid.
- At this point, you will still be sore but can transition back into
2 Months: Postoperative Visit #4:
- At this point, you continue wearing a good supportive orthotic and good shoe.
- If everything is feeling well, you should be close to healed.
- Keep in mind that you will continue improving for about 6 months total.
- But you should be feeling better at this point than you did before when you have a heel spur.
- Congratulations you
What Can Speed Up Healing Time in Big Toe Joint Fusion Surgery?
Many things can make you heal much quicker.
A)How much do you weigh?
- A 350lbs person may have a slightly harder time walking on their big toe joint fusion site than a 100lbs person.
- Generally, the smaller and lighter someone is, all things considered equal, they can walk much quicker with better pain relief.
- The more athletic and strong you are in the rest of your body, generally, the better you can keep weight off the front of the foot while it continues to improve.
B)How much walking do you need to do after surgery?:
- Someone who is a computer programmer clearly needs to stand or walk less than a nurse at a hospital. This causes less damage to the surgical site while it is healing.
- For example: If you have kids and need to check on them every 5 minutes, odds are you will be much sorer after the surgery than someone who can sit and watch Netflix all week long and relax with the foot elevated.
- In summary: the less you walk on your feet, the faster the big toe fusion site will heal after the surgery.
- These changes can sometimes improve healing time by even up to 50% difference based on our experience.
C)How healthy and physically fit, are you?
- Patients who can barely walk and have decreased overall muscle tone and strength before surgery generally have difficulty walking after surgery.
- A de-conditioned patient mare requires significant physical therapy after the surgery to build up its muscle tone. Your big toe joint pain can be only one component of your difficulty walking and moving.
- This means if you can’t support yourself on crutches or a knee scooter, you may be unable to walk after surgery without causing constant irritation to the foot.
- In general, someone who is more light and fit will have a harder time walking and moving.
Big Toe Joint Healing Summary:
How to Speed Up Joint Fusion Recovery Time:
- Keep the joint complete non-weight bearing.
- Stop Smoking.
- Get lots of rest.
- Take the pain medication that your podiatrist gives you.
How to Slow Down your Joint Fusion Recovery Time:
- The main this is people who walk on it, it may not seem like much, but the micromotion really inflames and irritates the joint and wound site leading to infections and major increases in healing time.
- Just stay off your foot no matter what. You are just making the entire process longer, and you will eventually have to keep off of it anyway!
Consider hallux rigidus surgery:
This is our video guide on hallux rigidus treatment:
More of 1st MTPJ fusion: Link
Big Toe Joint Home Treatment Infographic:
Big Toe Joint Injury or Surgery Treatment:
- If you think you might have a severe turf toe, a severe tear or sprain, a broken big toe joint or broken big toe, or you have just had surgery: this guide may be able to help you!
- Just make sure to check with your podiatrist because a severe injury will require imaging, biomechanical evaluation, and a good discussion to prevent anything from going more wrong.
- For surgery, purposes make sure to discuss with your podiatrist To see what is recommended, as every surgery is unique, and there are pros and cons to all treatment methods.
Big Toe Joint Fracture, Sprain, or Surgery Products:
- If you have a traumatic injury such as a broken bone or ligament tear, these products may be able to help you.
- The best way to do this is, of course, to see your podiatrist and get evaluated with an x-ray, ultrasound, and potentially even an MRI or CT scan.
- If you cannot do so, it may benefit you to be in a cast, fractured boot, or even keep the weight off of it with a rolling knee scooter or other protective devices.
- We as podiatrists frequently take patients off work for a very long period of time when they suffer a traumatic injury. Unfortunately, there is no other way around us in labor jobs.
- If you have a sit-down job, there are ways to get people back to work quicker, but this can be impossible otherwise.
- Just remember these injuries can take a very long time, specifically 2 to 3 months or more, to come back from if you’re going to be on your feet all day. There is a long recovery time and healing time in most cases.
Big Toe Joint Injury & Surgery Immobilization:
- There are pros and cons to using a boot to treat your big toe joint injury. If you are immobilized too long, the cons are that you will gradually become stiff and overworked to your other leg.
- The Pros are that your injured heel will hopefully have a chance to heal gradually!
- Our favorite fracture boots and their supplies:
Big Toe Arthritis and Hallux Rigidus:
- One of the best treatment options for a stiff big toe is a stiff orthotic.
- The big toe can become arthritic, and what causes the pain is the bone grinding on a joint that cannot move.
- Getting a rigid carbon insole can make a huge difference in preventing the bend of the big toe joint.
- Out of the big toe joint products in the next table, the carbon insole is worth looking at for relieving the big toe joint bed.
- A good over-the-counter orthotic can provide a similar result, and we would otherwise prefer those.
Offloading and Scooter Treatment:
- If you cannot use your foot, it needs to be immobilized: we have found success with offloading the scooters in these products.
- Crutches can be difficult long term, whereas scooters can really help you get around and to work if you have a sit-down job in this been okay-ed with your podiatrist.
- These are our favorite knee scooters and walking devices:
Best Big Toe Joint Products:
- There are usually two phases to treating big toe joint pain
- The two phases of treatment include controlling the acute inflammation with protection and correcting the biomechanics, which led to the problem in the first place.
- If the tendons, joints, and ligaments are inflamed, they are almost frozen in place and cannot function properly.
- Inflammation can mean damage as well, in this most likely needs to be protected as the big toe joint heavily relies upon the weight-bearing joint. So consider discussing with your podiatrist the need for and offloading surgical shoes or boots.
- Once the inflammation is decreased, we need to correct the biomechanical causes to ensure that they can never become overworked and inflamed again!
- The key with an injury or surgery is to keep it protected initially, and when the bone and tendon heels, to get moving before stiffness can set in.
Best Bunion Specific Products:
- There are no perfect bunion treatment products.
- Most people end up disappointed after spending a lot of money on bunion pads, bunion gel pads, expensive bunion correctors, and bunion splints!
- The truth is a bunion is a biomechanical injury. The foot is flattening out, and the ankle is flattening out, causing the pain.
- Having a gel pad on the big toe has very little chance of fixing the deformity, although it can stop the rubbing and relieve a lot of the pain.
- This is why people sometimes wear splints and correctors. It holds the toe straighter so that the tissue and were’s and have left pain.
Big Toe Joint Inflammation Control:
Massage & Ice Products:
- Ice is an excellent option that can be safe for almost everyone.
- There is some debate about whether icing is worth doing, but this can help limit the need for medications and keep your options open for chronic pain.
- This works great for your arch, less for the ball of the foot.
- The more muscle and ligament tissue there is, the better ice will work there.
Menthol Based Gels:
- Biofreeze is one of our favorites.
- This can work well as a cream or gel option for your big toe joint pain.
- These gels have been studied to work 2x as long as ice.
- This works great for the ball of the foot.
- This can be very effective for the bottom of the heel and Achilles tendon sore regions.
- These can work great for loosening your muscles.
- This is not to be used directly onto your foot but to help take pressure off the foot’s front.
- This allows less tightness and pressure on the ball of your foot.
- This is very effective for the arch, the gastrocnemius, calf muscle, and the hamstring and thigh muscles.
- This also works very well for the gluteus muscles if you are having butt cheek or hip pain.
Remove the Big Toe Joint Pressure:
- The key is to prevent future pain and to keep pressure off of the big toe joint.
- This means keeping you active while keeping stress off of your big toe joint. This will prevent future bunions, sesamoiditis, turf toe, and even big toe joint arthritis!
- If you can get rid of the pain and swelling, this will let you start walking normally.
- If you can walk normally, the vast majority of your pain should gradually start to go away.
- The best way to ensure that your big toe joint, hammertoes, and foot and ankle ligaments are not overworked is to support them.
- The best way to support them is to use great orthotics and great shoes.
- Some people may also need to rely on supportive ankle braces and other supportive modalities.
Best Big Toe Joint & Flat Foot Shoes:
- Getting a great supportive pair of shoes will make sure that there is no further pressure onto the ball of your foot and the big toe joint region.
- This is especially important if you have plantar fasciitis, heel spur pain, or Achilles tendonitis.
- Consider shoes combined with a good supportive orthotic for the best pain relief!
- We have found shoes and orthotics to be one of the most effective ways to reduce bunion and hammertoe pain.
- The following link will show you what our favorites are.
Best Big Toe Joint & Flat Foot Orthotics:
- These are our recommended orthotics for offloading the big toe joint.
- Custom orthotics can work very well, but they should not be the first line of treatment. Custom orthotics can cost a lot of money, over the counter orthotics can be a great introduction to foot control and prevent pronation.
- There are different types of orthotics for different types of shoes.
- Women’s shoes usually need a less bulky orthotic but allow for less correction of your big toe joint and ball of the foot pain.
- A full-length orthotic requires a running shoe, boot, or comfortable walking/dress shoe.
- We recommend doing everything you can to get a good supportive shoe that can fit a full-length orthotic. This will get you the best results for your bunion, hammertoes, and bunionette.
- This is the best way to maximize your orthotics for great results.
Best Full-Length Orthotics:
- These will only work in wider shoes or a good supportive running shoe.
- This will not work in sandals, flats, or most women’s dress shoes.
Best Dress Shoe Orthotics:
- These are a great choice for dress orthotics.
Best 3/4 Length Orthotics:
- These are great options for women’s dress shoes and thinner shoes.
- These are not the most supportive pair of orthotics.
Get A Great Dynamic Stretch:
- The goal of getting a great stretch is to improve your ankle flexibility and prevent ball of the foot pain and big toe joint pressure.
- It is possible to stretch on your own, but these products can also really help!
- This will take pressure off of the ball of your foot.
- We personally prefer this method of stretching.
Get A Great Static Stretch:
- These devices are great for stretching while you are resting.
- This will also help take pressure off of the ball of your foot.
- This works great for plantar fasciitis but can also make your ankle more flexible in removing pressure from the ball of your foot!
- It can be used while watching TV or at night time.