Managing Pain After Bunion Surgery


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I often hear patients' concerns about the pain from bunion surgery. Bunion surgeries are known to be quite painful, but here at the Foot & Ankle Center, we've developed a protocol that has greatly reduced the amount of pain people have after bunion surgery. It's a five-step process:

  • The first step is the use of certain medications that are not narcotics, but they work with the narcotics to make them much more effective and greatly reduce the amount of discomfort.

  • Secondly, we do a type of anesthesia that will numb the leg from the knee down; this lasts about 20 hours, so for the first 20 hours, you're not feeling any discomfort at all.

  • The third step to our pain protocol is when we're finishing up the surgery, we put a tiny catheter inside your foot that connects to a little gadget you go home with that's filled with numbing medicine. For five days it's pumping numbing medicine inside your foot, so once the nerve block wears off and you get the feeling back in your leg, for 20 hours that little gadget has already been pumping numbing medicine inside your foot, so you don't have a whole lot of discomfort at that point.

  • The next part of our protocol involves the type of dressing we use. One of the most painful parts of bunion surgery is the pressure from the bandage after the surgery. So there's a type of dressing we put on that's very large and very bulky, in fact people sometimes make fun of it, but it allows you to easily swell into the dressing, so you don't get the pain that people often have caused by pressure from the dressing.

  • The last part of our protocol involves a type of pad that we wrap around the foot inside the dressing. It connects to another machine you go home with, which is filled with ice water, and it circulates ice water 24/7. It's like having an ice pack all the time inside of your dressing.

If you'd like more information about bunions, check out the links below. Or, to schedule a consultation, give us a call at 804-320-FOOT (804-320-3668) or request an appointment online.