Toe Drift After Bunion Surgery

Toe Drift After Bunion Surgery

Table of Contents

Toe drift is a common complication that can occur after bunion surgery, in which the big toe moves towards the second toe due to a lack of stability. This can happen if the ligaments and tendons that hold the big toe in place are not properly repaired or if the bones are not properly aligned during surgery.

Toe drift can also occur due to poor post-operative care, such as not wearing the correct shoes or not following the proper rehabilitation protocol.

Symptoms of toe drift may include:

  • Redirection of the big toe towards the second toe
  • Pain or discomfort in the affected area
  • Difficulty fitting shoes
  • Recurrence of bunion

If you suspect toe drift, it’s important to see your surgeon or podiatrist as soon as possible. They may recommend additional physical therapy, orthotic inserts, or even revision surgery to correct the issue.

It is important to follow the post-operative instructions given by your surgeon and to be compliant with the rehabilitation protocol. Wearing the appropriate shoes and orthotic inserts as well as following up with physical therapy can also help prevent toe drift and ensure a successful recovery.

What Is Failed Bunion Surgery?

Problems after bunion surgery are sometimes intense enough to be characterized as a failed bunion correction. What complications are a possibility after bunion surgery? Although they aren’t so common, it’s still wise to be informed about the possibilities. Here’s what can occur:

  • Recurrence of the bunion, 
  • Stiffness of the big toe joint, 
  • Arthritis of the big toe joint (hallux rigidus),
  • Pain after bunion surgery
  • New structural problem – hallux varus

Why Does Bunion Surgery Fail?

Bunion surgery gone wrong – why does this happen? The factors in play can be doctor-related or patient-related. If your doctor has chosen the wrong procedure to address your deformity, that can result in a failed surgery – usually, the problem is that the chosen procedure didn’t address the underlying issue. 

Of course, technical errors can happen as well – this means that your doctor has picked the right procedure but hasn’t executed the plan correctly. Lastly, the blame can lie on the patient as well – if they don’t follow the doctor’s instructions for the post-op recovery, they can jeopardize the fixed big toe joint. 

How to Tell if the Big Toe Is Drifting?

A new structural deformity called hallux varus is a possibility after bunion surgery – this is a so-called toe drift. During or after the recovery period following the procedure, a patient might notice their big toe drifting inwards – away from the second toe. In a way, this deformity is the opposite of a bunion. This condition is usually painful and can cause trouble with fitting into shoes. You might also notice some swelling, soreness, and reduced range of motion in the big toe joint. 

Although hallux varus can be an inherited condition, the more common reason for this deformity is the overcorrection of a bunion during surgery. This problem is less common than under-correction but often comes with greater symptoms that cause a lot of discomfort to the patient. Overcorrection is a result of a surgeon’s error during bunionectomy – it occurs due to overly aggressive resection of the medial eminence or too aggressive lateral soft tissue release. 

Is There a Way to Fix Failed Bunion Surgery?

If the bunion surgery has failed, you will most likely need revision surgery. The second procedure should address the underlying issue and fix the foot deformity for good. When it comes to hallux varus, there are a few procedures that can correct it – what your surgeon will choose depends on your individual circumstances. 

It’s always best to fix the toe drift as soon as it occurs – before the joint contractures develop. If you wait too long, the revision will most likely have to be more invasive. Your surgeon will work to restore proper bone alignment. This can be done by fusing the big toe joint in place or, in some cases, simply addressing the soft tissue – it all depends on the severity of the case. 

A surgeon in an operating room

Consult Your Surgeon in Miami if You Notice Toe Drift After Bunion Surgery

If you happen to have toe drift after your bunion surgery, you should reach out to a specialist and consult on the best way to fix the issue. We at Luxe Foot Surgery clinic can help you – we have a team of skilled doctors who would be more than happy to take care of your toe drift. Contact us to schedule an appointment – you can call our office or simply fill out an inquiry form on our website. 


How Do You Keep Your Big Toe Straight After Bunion Surgery?

After the bunion correction procedure, you will be provided with a special surgical shoe to wear until your foot heals from surgery. You should wear it for about six weeks, but your doctor will determine if more or less time is necessary. The surgical shoe is designed to help keep your toe in the correct position. After you recover, you might also need physical therapy to keep the toe straight. 

Will I Be Able to Bend My Toe After Bunion Surgery?

You can’t bend your big toe immediately after bunion surgery. Patients need to wait until the toe is recovered in order to bend it – this will be in about six to eight weeks, depending on the type of bunion surgery they had.


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