Recovering from a Second Hallux Rigidus Surgery

These babies came off about seven weeks ago.

These babies came off about seven weeks ago.

The osteotomy I had on my right foot two years ago was a fair success. Not a smashing success—but it did change my walking and made everything in general hurt less. The hard callouses I’ve on the bottom of my big toe for my whole life are gone, which would imply that I’m rolling my foot more like a normal hallux rigidus–less person.

Anyway, the point is, it went well enough for me to do the second foot this year. I called for this one earlier in the school year which had the added advantage of it not being cold out, so walking around in a sandal for six weeks was not as much of a problem.

But I gotta say, this recovery has been really slow, possibly slower than the first one. The two post-surgery days at the hospital were quite a bit more painful and the morphine drip didn’t seem to do much this time. In fact they offered to take it out much earlier and I agreed (also because of this post-surgical problem that medical sites on the interwebs suggested might be aggravated by an IV). I did figure out I could wear my top-closing Naot sandals on my left foot while wearing a normal shoe on my right foot which made going out a little easier since it allowed me to ditch the post-surgical shoe sooner.

Still, it’s been almost seven weeks and my mobility is discouraging. I didn’t think the torn ACL in my right knee would bother me since it was truly not giving me any more pain, but that has been a big hindrance to my mobility post-surgery. The knee has hurt often and inconsistently with the extra weight being put on it.

Also, I didn’t realize how much harder we push on a clutch pedal than an accelerator, or even the brakes. Driving is still not too much fun, since I have to be careful not to use my big toe on the clutch—OUCH. I am going back to work on Monday but mostly because I can’t stand sitting around at the house anymore, not really because I think the foot is ready. I still can’t put too much weight on the forefoot really, so I walk very slowly and with a limp. I’ll be doing some stationary teaching (eugh), lots of sending students to do things that I would normally do, and avoiding stairs. I still hate taking off and putting on my shoes. My feet are both still really sore after any prolonged walking, like grocery shopping.

Lesson to take away from this: when they say you’ll be back on your feet after six weeks, interpret “back on your feet” with a grain of salt!

For those curious about the first surgery, I wrote about recovery here.

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7 thoughts on “Recovering from a Second Hallux Rigidus Surgery

  1. Cat says:

    I had surgery on Dec 16 2014 and will return to work (FT) on Mar 3. It has been slow and the big toe seems to be a bit too close to the other toe although my doctor continues to tell me to be patient (not one of my virtues!) as there is still a bit of swelling. Overall, the surgery went very well, very little pain much to my surprise. I picked a great time of year to do this because I am missing nothing but the mounds of snow outside that continue to pile up. I am just getting back into my yoga practice and finding that certain poses are quite challenging – runner’s lunge, moving to downward dog, and even plank. I am hoping that with time I will adjust to this new-norm, it will “loosen” up a bit and that exercise using that foot will be fine. I have no pain in that area now which is great relief since I felt and held my breath in pain with every single step I took before this was done.

    • Dana C says:

      I had this surgery 2 weeks and 3 days ago (Feb. 27, 2015) – my right foot. I had the same surgery with mediocre results about 5.5 years prior. I couldn’t get my foot into my ski boot, so I decided it’s time so I can ski with my family again next year! The 2nd week seemed easier than this week. It’s starting to get old already, and I am frustrated by the enormous pressure and tightness I feel in my foot when it’s in a “hanging down” position for more than five minutes. I cut the top portion of an old running shoe so I can have a more “even playing field” and not be off balance when driving or doing errands. If I hit the gym, I can do recumbent non impact machines. I am inspired that you are back at your yoga practice only 8 weeks post surgery. This gives me motivation and helps me to ditch some of the “woe as me” attitude. Every day is different. One day great, and the next day is not. Eventually, I’ll be back to a new normal, and push the limits of the toe to break up scar tissue. I wish I had done that more on the left toe as it is still not as flexible as I would have liked post surgery. Hope you are healing and that your runners pose is getting easier with each session!

      • Cat says:

        You are already up and around, and driving? I was just released to drive two weeks ago (after 10 weeks of not driving). I kept my foot elevated the majority of the day for at least the first 4-5 weeks. It’s no wonder why you are feeling so much pressure when your foot is hanging down. Give yourself time and take it slow or else you will have a set back. I know it is difficult and frustrating, but take this time to just slow down and heal. I just joined with three other people for a personal trainer (through my employer) once a week who is giving me things to help loosen the foot and strengthen it. I still am not back 100% but get a little more active every day. Yoga is still my best bet and yes, thanks, the runner’s lunge gets a bit easier every time I try.
        I keep looking back at your post and seeing that you are only a little over two weeks out and I cannot believe what you are doing! I really think you need to stay off it longer if you can and be patient. It takes time to heal after something like this. Good luck!!

  2. Amanda says:

    Great to hear everyone’s story on their recovery. I have just had surgery to fuse the right big toe 5 days ago. So far not much pain, but do agree when you move around even for a short time it’s great to sit down and put the foot up. I have no pressure to get back to work so I am planning to give myself time to recover, can’t wait to get back into yoga and Pilates so enjoyed reading about the ladies who have started that journey!

  3. Cat says:

    I am now almost five months post-op and doing great. Still getting used to the lack of movement but at least there isn’t any pain. Still a little bit of swelling and discomfort occasionally, but overall doing well. I’m back to working out at the same level I was before, I just avoid jumping and anything that has me lunging back on that foot too much. Just won’t bend the way it used to! 😉

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