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Foot & Ankle Problems Message Board

Foot & Ankle Problems Board Index

Hi Bunionpain,

I am so very sorry for everything you have been through. I can relate to the questions you are asking about toe fusion because I myself was extremely nervous as well. I will give you some background on what I went through.

Since I can remember, and I want to say that my toe was this way since birth, I had a bunion. It was extremely severe and my big toe actually went under my second toe. Considering that I had that since birth, I was pretty used to it & it didn't hurt too badly but was def. becoming worse as I aged. At 20 years of age I went to an Orthop. Surgeon who came highly recommended. Right off that bat he suggested toe fusion; however, the recovery is a good 6 months. At that time I decided not to go for it, because I was unable to take that much time off. I want to say in Dec. of 2005 I had my first big toe fusion ( I was 22). I was on this board everyday! Post-op was difficult for me. I was young and annoyed that I was in a cast and then a boot for so long. The way they performed my surgery is that they put 2 pins in my toes; however, they were removable. So, after a certain amount of time, the doctor takes the pins out and then bone is supposed to heal where the screws come out. I was very careful with my foot because i was afraid something would go wrong and did not want to go through the process all over again. Well, after the 6 months, the doc. said I was okay and he sent me to physical therapy. Finding shoes was a pain, because of all of the swelling and of course, with your toe sticking up more, some shoes are not comfortable. A few months into PT and walking around I noticed my toe moving back over toward my 2nd toe. Now, this shouldn't really happen considering the mtp is fused, so I immediately went back to my doctor. My doctor said that it "appeared" the fusion did not really take. He said I could either live with it the way it was or we could do it again, this time with putting a screw into my toe. I was in pain and therefore decided to have another surgery.

With this surgery I was extra cautious because I was not going through it again. I saw my doctor more frequently and in the end this one took (thank goodness!). So all in all, about 2 years of my life was consumed by this. It takes a bit of time to get used to walking again because your gait is somewhat different than previously. I did go to PT again, but to a different person (the 1st person I went to did not know what she was doing....she was actually trying to get my big toe to bend after numerous attempts to tell her that it wasn't supposed to) and they really helped with strengthening my ankle and working on my balance. For me, my ankle strength was minimal after surgery because I really had my foot up and no movement for quite awhile.

I hope this didn't scare you, but fusion is a big deal. However, after all you have been through it will probably be a piece of cake! I am now 25 and lead an active life. I do wear heels (I love shoes, so that is probably that hardest part of this all now) and can wear them for the majority of the day, but it does feel good to take them off when I get home! On occasion, my toe will ache based on the weather because of the screw.

Now to more specifically answer your questions:
Can you walk normal? Do you walk on the outside of you foot due to this?
--I think I walk normal. It takes a little time to get used to walking again, but practice and make sure to put your heel down first and roll off your toes. At first, I was walking kind of "flat footed." I wasn't putting my heel down first or rolling off my toes.

Does it affect the rest of your body (hips, back, knees, ect)?
--To some extent, I think so. At times, my knees really hurt or my back hurts.

Do you regret having it done, or waiting so long to have it done?
---At times I regret having it done. However, if I would have waited longer, the problem would have gotten worse and the recovery would have been extremely difficult.

Can other people tell your foot is different just by looking at it?
---Well, your toe does stick up a bit so they probably could. If you are sitting with your feet up, such as on a recliner, I would say no.

Is it really hard to find shoes that fit, how wide is your foot? (mine is very wide now)
---Honestly, finding shoes takes some work especially at first! When you are able to begin wearing shoes again your foot will be swollen and you need to find shoes that have a "toe box" as my doc phrased it.

Can you take long walks? (I love taking my daughter to amusement parks and the aquarium and on very long walks) Could you go to an amusement park all day and walk around and not be in extreme pain? If you are in pain how much.
---I take long walks with my husband a lot and am not in pain.

Can you go into most stores and find shoes that will fit? What size heel can you wear? How long can you wear them?
---Finding shoes is tough. I want to say that I can wear 2- 2 1/2 inch heels. However, it all depends on the shoe. You really need to take time to find shoes that feel comfortable. Make sure to wear them around the store and get a good feel. I used to just put them on and be happy they fit. I would then get home and walk around in them and realize how uncomfortable they were.

I hope this helps! Debbie is a wonderful source of information and was there for me when I went through this as well!

--Hi Debbie!
Good luck!

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