Foot Surgery

December 30, 2012

A month ago I had foot surgery to remove several bone spurs from the base knuckle of my big toe. For the past several years I've had near constant pain from these arthritis-caused growths in my right foot. Some days the pain was great enough to make me limp, other days it was only a minor annoyance.

The surgery appears to have been a complete success. While my foot is still slightly swollen I have not experienced any of the pain to which I had become accustomed.

The first two weeks of my recovery were spent with my foot elevated. The gauze bandages and elastic wrap that were applied in surgery weren't removed until day 14. The gauze was tight enough that more than a few minutes with my foot down were very painful. Once the stitches were out I was able to get around more normally; still wearing the post-op shoe which is stiff enough to protect my swollen toe.

The past two weeks (week 3 and 4) have seen me return to a more normal lifestyle. I've stopped wearing the post-op shoe at night - which immensely improved my ability to sleep comfortably - and I returned to work the week prior to the Christmas break. I can drive, walk, even shovel snow on the driveway. I still ice my foot some to help with the swelling.

The last of the scabs (from the stitches) has come off, so now I can start to massage the incision line and surrounding area to help prevent scar tissue build up. The incision itself is barely visible. It's a thin red line that has no texture to it at all. Twelve years ago I had an umbilical hernia repaired and that surgery left a three inch long scar that is fibrous and quite visible. I was pleasantly surprised to see how minimal this new scar is at first glance.

I have managed to stick my foot into regular shoes a couple of times in the last day or two. However after a few minute the shoe began to feel too tight. When I return to work later this week I expect I'll still be using the post-op shoe. Or maybe start with a regular shoe but have the post-op shoe on hand for when my foot begins to complain.

Over the next few weeks I'll be massaging the joint and surrounding tissue, and starting to exercise my foot again beginning with short walks. I hope to start using our treadmill again soon, and I am looking forward to pain-free bicycling later in the spring.

Since my bone spurs were likely caused by arthritis there is a chance they could return. From the time I first had recurring pain in my big toe until now has been about 10 or 12 years. Even if I have to repeat this surgery in a decade I will be very pleased and consider it a success. And who knows, in a decade there may be an even better treatment option.

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Mark H. Nichols

I am a husband, cellist, code prole, nerd, technologist, and all around good guy living and working in fly-over country. You should follow me on Twitter.