Does Physical Therapy Really Matter After Bunion Surgery?

Last updated: 06-20-2020

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Does Physical Therapy Really Matter After Bunion Surgery?



Not long ago, physical therapy wasn’t viewed as something patients needed to participate in during their rehabilitation following bunion surgery. Bunions respond well to surgery and limited weight bearing, so some doctors and patients felt that physical therapy wasn’t needed to achieve a positive result. A small faction of professionals also felt that ordering physical therapy for a patient reflected poorly on their ability to correct the problem with surgery alone.

However, as we’ve conducted more studies and learned to put egos to the side, it has become clear that physical therapy matters after bunion correction surgery. In today’s blog, we explain why you should follow through with your PT routine if you are scheduled to undergo bunion correction surgery.
Why PT Matters After Bunion Surgery

The biggest reason why physical therapy matters after bunion surgery is because it can help the patient achieve maximum medical improvement. If you’re going to make the decision to go under the knife, you don’t want to settle for “good enough” when it comes to your recovery. With rest and limited weight bearing after surgery, the vast majority of patients experience positive outcomes, but odds are they won’t be quite as functionally as strong as those patients who undergo physical therapy.

Two recent studies confirmed this belief when they analyzed the recovery of patients after bunion surgery. The first study not only found that patients showed a significant increase in functional ability when they underwent physical therapy after surgery compared to their pre-op score, they also learned some interesting information about push off power. They learned that even after corrective surgery, patients who didn’t do physical therapy were less likely to push off their corrected toe when walking compared to those that followed a PT program. Pushing off your toe is a normal function during walking, so those that underwent physical therapy after surgery returned to a more normalized gait compared to their counterparts.

The second study also proved the benefits of PT after bunion surgery. Without going into all the details, two groups of patients were tested using the Foot Function Index and the ACFAS Universal Foot and Ankle Scoring System. Patients who underwent physical therapy significantly outperformed those in the control group who chose not to receive PT in both functional screening tests.

So while you’ll probably be “fine” if you skip physical therapy after your bunion correction procedure, if you’re going to have the procedure performed, you might as well put in a little extra work and really help to drive home recovery and improve your ultimate outcome. Don’t settle for fine when you can have great strength, function and range of motion in your big toe joint simply by participating in a physical therapy routine after your bunion procedure.

We advise all of our patients to consider a physical therapy routine after their surgical procedure, and we can recommend a course for you based on your needs. For many individuals, this routine that we’ve outlined here will do wonders for their recovery. It walks you through up to three months of post-op physical therapy, and we’ve seen the results firsthand so we know that they work!

For more information about the benefits of physical therapy after bunion surgery, or to learn more about your options when it comes to bunion treatment, reach out to the Centers For Advanced Orthopaedics today.


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