More than 150,000 bunion correction procedures are performed in the United States each year, and while the surgery is very successful at correcting the shifted toe joint, things aren’t just back to normal with your foot the moment that the last surgical stitch is in place. Many people don’t realize that physical therapy is a common rehabilitation technique for patients who undergo both open and minimally invasive bunion correction. Below, we take a look at why physical therapy is essential in the wake of bunion surgery.
How PT Helps After Bunion Surgery
Here’s a look at some of the ways that physical therapy is beneficial after a corrective bunion procedure.
- Swelling Control And Circulation – Even when minimally invasive techniques are used, surgery is a major undertaking for your foot and your body. The physical trauma of surgery will result in swelling, and fluid retention can actually slow down the healing process. A physical therapist can help to reduce swelling and get fluid moving out of the area so that healthy blood can circulate more easily. They’ll do this with movement and manual therapy techniques, as well as compression and elevation.
- Safe Movement – You will be advised to avoid putting any weight on the foot for a period of time following your surgery. This period of non-weight bearing can last up to six weeks, so a physical therapist will want to ensure you’re moving safely and effectively in the meantime. They’ll help you get the hang of your crutches or other assistive walking devices, and they can talk about obstacles to safe movement in the home that you’ll want to watch out for.
- Flexibility – Although your big toe joint has been realigned, that doesn’t mean your full range of motion will be restored along with it. To regain the most flexibility in the surgically addressed joint, you’re going to need to participate in physical therapy exercises. A PT will provide you with some gentle mobilization exercises to improve range of motion in your big toe after surgery.
- Balance And Strengthening – After an extended period of being non-weight bearing, it’s not uncommon for patients to experience balance issues or have some muscle deficiencies in their foot because they haven’t been regularly strengthened like normal. Your physical therapist can help to improve your balance and safely target these weakened muscles to help restore your strength and proprioception in your foot and toe.
So if you are scheduled to have bunion surgery in the near future, or you’ve noticed that you’re starting to develop a bunion on one of your big toe joints (physical therapy is also a common non-invasive treatment technique for mild to moderate bunions), reach out to the team at OrthoRehab Specialists. We’d be happy to ensure that your rehabilitation stays on track and that as much physical function is restored in the joint as possible. For more information, or to schedule an appointment with our team, give us a call today at (612) 339-2041.