It is natural to have concerns about doing those activities and fun hobbies you enjoyed before your big toe fusion.
Knowing when it is safest to resume those activities post-fusion surgery will protect the fused toe and help it heal better.
In this article, I’ll go over the different activities that are safe to do after a big toe fusion. Most especially hiking.
It will take 7 to 10 weeks before you can safely perform activities like hiking, running, cycling, tennis, etc., after a big toe fusion. The only exception is when the toe is not yet completely fused. At this point, overexerting the fused toe will cause the fusion to break, causing extreme pain and bone damage.
How Long After Big Toe Fusion Can You Hike?
It is best to wait at least 7 to 8 weeks after fusion before hiking. You must undergo a post-rehabilitation process after the surgical procedure before you can gain full mobility on your big toe.
In the initial stages after surgery, you will feel pains and experience some swelling on the toe. It is not the time to perform strenuous activities like hiking or running.
However, the pains and swelling will slowly subside within 6 weeks. You will still suffer minor pains and discomfort for at least 4 more months.
But after about 7 weeks, you can do any activity with your big toe. Although, it is best to be careful and still take healthy precautions.
Below is a broken-down list of the different phases you should expect during the recovery.
#1. First 2 Weeks
The first 2 Weeks after the fusion surgery will be the most difficult. You’ll have to deal with the pains and tender swelling of the toe.
However, you’ll be given a special orthopedic sandal and crutches. During this period, it is best to rest as much as possible and not exert pressure on the toe.
You can still do passive activities like cooking, walking around the house (with crutches), working from home, etc. But, avoid overly strenuous activities or heavy lifting.
Also, during this period, ensure you keep your bandage dry and regularly perform rehabilitation exercises to strengthen your foot.
#2. 3rd Week
By the 3rd Week, the doctor will remove the bandages, and you will be given a toe alignment splint.
During this period, you must also avoid heavy lifting or strenuous activities. The doctor will prescribe a few exercises that will help with the healing process.
#3. 4th Week
After 3 weeks, you can start wearing normal shoes, and you may not need the crutches anymore.
Although you will still feel soreness and mild pain in your toe, you can do light exercises like swimming and even driving.
However, this all depends on the speed rate of the recovery process and how well your toe is healing.
You should maintain precautions and avoid strenuous activities that apply too much pressure on the toe.
#4. 7th Week
At this point, the recovery process should have healed enough to allow you to perform activities like hiking.
However, please consult with your doctor first and get his approval. Your doctor may see why you should hold on a few more weeks and allow the toe to heal more.
Follow the doctor’s instructions and exercise a little patience. Here is a link to a complete downloadable patient information leaflet on Big Toe Fusion.
Does a Big Toe Fusion Heal Completely?
Yes, a big toe fusion heals completely. In under 13 months, you can be sure to have regained at least 90% functionality of your legs.
However, for the fusion to heal properly, you must follow the doctor’s instructions carefully and take certain precautions, especially during the early weeks of post-surgery.
A few precautions include;
- In the first 2 Weeks, ensure you always shower with a waterproof cover over your leg to avoid getting water inside the bandages.
- And after the bandages are taken off, and you can shower again, ensure to use a different soft towel or cloth to dab your toe dry after bathing.
- Look out for infection after your bandages are removed. Contact your doctor immediately if the wounds become red, itchy, sore, or swollen.
- Also, try not to scratch or rub the wounds with your bare hands. It can potentially cause an infection to develop sooner.
- Consult with a physiotherapist on the different stages of your rehabilitation exercises.
- Usually, the physiotherapist will take you through gait re-education and muscle tightness reduction.
- Do not drive during the first 2 Weeks after surgery. It is best to have a driver that can take you around town when you need to drive out.
- You can start driving from the 3rd or 5th Week after surgery.
A few possible risks can occur after a big toe fusion. Your doctor should inform you beforehand about these risk factors.
#1. Nerve Damage
Although nerve damage is rare, it is still a potential risk factor. The nerves close to the incision can get bruised and may result in numbness of the toe after surgery.
Usually, the patient regains sensation after some time.
#2. Symptomatic Clot Formation
Symptomatic Clot Formation is when a blood clot occurs in a deep vein. The condition can cause serious damage to the lungs and block blood flow to other vital organs in the body.
If you notice sudden shortness of breath, rapid pulse, or coughing out blood, consult your doctor immediately.
Infection cases are not very serious in the sense that they are more prone to happen, and they can be easily treated. However, you must take precautions to ensure they don’t rear up.
For one, avoid getting your bandages wet during the first 2 weeks after the big toe fusion. Always keep the bandages dry. A wet bandage will create a breeding ground for bacteria to thrive on the wounds.
Can You Wear Hiking Shoes After a Big Toe Fusion?
You shouldn’t wear regular hiking shoes immediately after a big toe fusion. You have to give the fusion time to heal to an extent.
It is safest to wear hiking shoes from 7 to 10 weeks after a big toe fusion. By then, your toe would have healed fully, and you should not feel pain when hiking.
The type of shoes you wear after having a big toe fusion is very Important. Regular shoes may cause pain or discomfort and even harm the fused bone long-term.
Below are a few shoe options that are safe to wear for hiking or running:
|NB Men’s MW928||It Features soft rubber soles and midfoot cushioning.|
|Hoka One One Clifton 4||Features wider toe spaces than regular shoes.|
|Altra Olympus Trail||Extremely comfortable, with breathable upper mesh.|
|Brooks Adrenaline GTS 18||Great stability, extremely comfortable.|
|MBT Walking Shoe||MBT has a big toe box and is durable.|
You can begin hiking after your big toe fusion is completely healed. It can take up to 7 to 10 weeks.
During the first 2 weeks of recovery, always keep the bandages dry and avoid putting pressure on the big toe. From the 4th Week, you can perform less strenuous exercises like swimming.
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