Bunion removal surgery: recovery and pain management

Mr Andrew Skyrme | September 6, 2023 | Article

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Mr Andrew Skyrme, orthopaedic surgeon and Clinical Lead of Orthopaedics at the Horder Centre, explains bunion removal surgery.

Bunions can be a source of significant pain and discomfort, often inhibiting people from partaking in everyday activities. For those suffering from severe bunions, surgical intervention becomes an essential consideration. However, the prospect of surgery may give rise to questions about the recovery process and post-operative pain. As an orthopaedic surgeon specialising in foot and ankle surgery at The Horder Centre in East Sussex, I frequently perform bunion removal surgeries. It's understandable that patients are concerned about the speed of recovery and how we manage pain after the operation. In this article, I aim to dispel some concerns and offer insight into these aspects of bunion removal surgery.

Speed of Recovery

The speed of recovery can vary from person to person, but modern surgical techniques have drastically improved the recuperation period. Here's what you can generally expect:

Immediate Postoperative Period

After the surgery, you'll spend a few hours in the recovery room where the medical team will closely monitor your vitals and pain levels. Most bunion surgeries are day case procedures, which means you should be able to go home the same day.

First Week

For the first week, you should keep your foot elevated as much as possible to minimise swelling. You'll likely be in a surgical boot to protect the foot and aid in mobility.

Subsequent Weeks

Within 2-4 weeks, most patients can transition to regular footwear, although it should be roomy and comfortable to accommodate any lingering swelling.

Full Recovery

Most patients are back to their routine activities within 6 weeks. However, rigorous activities like running may need to be postponed until full recovery is achieved, usually around the 10-week mark.

Minimising Post-Operative Pain

Pain management is a cornerstone of patient care post-surgery. At The Horder Centre, we employ a multi-pronged approach:

During the surgery, local anaesthetics are used to numb the area, providing initial relief from pain.

Pain medication is prescribed for the first few days post-op to keep discomfort at a minimum.

In the first 24-48 hours, nurses frequently assess pain levels to adjust pain management protocols as necessary.

Early but careful mobilisation is encouraged to aid in faster recovery and to minimise muscle stiffness, which in turn helps in reducing pain.

Patient Education

You'll receive detailed guidelines on what to expect and how to manage pain, including exercises that aid in quicker recovery.


Regular follow-up appointments are scheduled to ensure that you are on track for a fast and smooth recovery.


Bunion surgery has come a long way in terms of reducing recovery times and post-operative discomfort. It is a manageable procedure, with a clear roadmap for swift recovery and minimal pain. As with any surgery though, it's crucial to consult with a qualified orthopaedic surgeon to discuss your specific needs and concerns.

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