Friday, 25 January 2013

I like to move it, move it

One of the main concerns in my recovery is getting full range of motion back in my big toes, so that I can walk, run, do yoga and, ahem, wear heels.

I did ask the doctor (not my surgeon) at the hospital when the casts were removed about exercises, but he said I didn't need to do them.

However, I know from reading other people's experiences that in America especially, people get given exercises to do, and it makes sense to me that it would be beneficial to do some, even if the NHS doesn't deem them necessary.

The main exercises I can find online pretty much all seem to be the same as these ones here.

The timings on the sheet are different, because it seems that in America people get their casts off really soon, after a couple of weeks. I'm not sure why that is as the standard bone healing time here in the UK is six weeks - if you break a bone, you get a cast for six weeks - so it seems odd to me that they'd take them off sooner than that.

I'm glad I had mine on for seven weeks as I feel it gave my bones a really good chance to heal in the right place.

Anyway, ignoring the timings, I am now trying to do the same exercises every day.

So I hold my big toe near the operated-on joint and move it up as much as I can without crying, then hold for ten seconds, then do the same thing moving it down and hold for ten seconds.

Then I put my toes on the floor and lift up as though going on tiptoe, putting weight through the toes, as much as I can without weeping in pain, and hold for ten seconds.

It really hurts.

I am careful not to push beyond discomfort into agony as that would be counterproductive, but I have learned from yoga that it's important to breathe through mild pain and listen to your body so that you challenge it, but at the same time don't push it too far.

Yesterday I took some pictures so that a) you lot could see how little I can move and b) I can chart my progress over the coming months.

This picture shoes how far I can currently lift my feet from the floor. It's not so bad - I could definitely get some low heels on lol.

The same exercise with just the left foot. Probably I should do this with a ruler for future pictures, but it looks about three inches?

This is me pointing my toes. I feel like they don't move at all when I do this!

Applying pressure to the toe to move it as far down as possible. Which is probably about one millimetre!

Overall I think that the progress is OK. Even in the last few days I've gone from it being painful to get my feet into the trainers, to being able to do it without pain, albeit gently and slowly.

You just don't realise how much you bend your toes in daily life until you can't do it easily. I have a new respect for elderly people now, I can tell you.


  1. Hi Emma I've been meaning to sign up for a while so I can post a comment to you. Your blog has been most interesting to read and at times very entertaining - please keep it going. I`m having my feet done in May so I have been hanging on your every word and experience. Bunion operations are not offered publicly in Australia so I am going private, the good thing is that that means I can pick my surgeon and grill him for information first / during / anytime etc. That's a definite thing that I have taken from your expereince is that the more information you have and the more informative your medical professionals are the better.

  2. Hi banjo2251! and welcome to the blog :) Thanks for reading and taking the time to register and post a comment. I get so excited when I get comments! :D

    I try hard to make the blog both fun to read and informative, so I'm glad it's hitting the right spot, but if there's anything you want to ask or for me to cover, then just let me know. I'd love to help you as much as I can.

    I find it interesting that in Australia you can't get your bunions done publicly (I'm guessing that's similar to the NHS?) Most of what I've read has been American and obviously they pay for everything over there, but I'd have considered bunions a medical issue and so something you'd expect to be available publicly if that's an option. I wonder what the rationale is behind refusing to do it?

    Having said that, and while I think my surgeon is amazing and has done an incredible job, I do think that if I'd gone private I'd have had more information, more access to my surgeon to ask questions, and probably some specific exercises and physio.

    Ten years ago I had a different operation done privately and I was even able to phone my surgeon and ask him questions at the weekend, so I think the experience would have been very different if I were directly paying for my care (because of course I've paid for it via taxes, it's only free at the point of delivery, not actually free!).

    If possible, I'd suggest that you try and see picures of your surgeon's previous patients, not just the bfore and after shots but also some shots where you can see the scars a couple of months (not years) later. I'm going to do a post on this soon, but some people's scars I've seen online are very red/purple, some are keloid (raised) scars, and I have to say none of them look as good at 9 weeks as mine do.

    And I think how the feet look after is as much to do with scarring as straight toes, so that's something to think about.

    Another thing you could do is ask local physios who THEY would use. I remember when I had the surgery there was a physio in there having surgery on her knee and she told me that Mr Nugent (my surgeon) was known to be the best in the area at feet and ankles. That kind of recommendation is very reassuring!

    Oh hey, this is an essay now lol. Maybe I should have done a reply in a post? :)

    It is so nice to know people are reading, and lovely to hear from my readers, so thank you very much for taking the time, and if you'd like to guest blog on here about your experiences then let me know and we can be in touch. I would love to have other people writing on here too :)

    Take care, Emma xxx