Sue Sinton travelled from Newcastle to London for bunion surgery at the London Foot and Ankle Centre, carried out by Clinical Director Mark Davies. Mrs Sinton is a 61-year-old retailer and magistrate.
Describe your foot problem
Bunions run in families – my mother had them too. I developed bunions on both feet, with the bunion on the right foot being the worst. As a result of my bunions, I also developed hammer toes, when the toe next to the big toe is pushed outwards. The hammer toe on my right foot was more pronounced.
Why did you choose to have bunion surgery?
I reached a stage when my bunions were affecting my life an awful lot. I’m a retailer and I really enjoy shopping, but I couldn’t stand for more than half an hour without being in a great deal of pain. If I came to London, I couldn’t even walk the short distance between Harrods and Harvey Nicks. My mother also loved clothes and shoes, but didn’t ever have surgery for her bunions. There are a lot of fears around bunion surgery – that it is very painful and recovery takes a long time. I took the view that it was affecting my life so badly that it would be worth going through surgery. I also decided that if I was going to have surgery, I wanted to have the best possible chance of a good result and recovery. I did a lot of research on the internet and although I live in Newcastle, I believed the London Foot and Ankle Centre would offer this opportunity. I had both bunions removed and the hammer toe on my right foot straightened in an operation in August 2007.
How did you feel straight after surgery?
When I came round after the operation, I was absolutely fine. The pain relief was good – I was very comfortable, in no pain at all. The staff at The Hospital of St John and St Elizabeth were really supportive, helping me to get around on crutches straight away. I went home after four days in hospital. My family found it very funny – I’m always working and always on the go. I followed instructions and stayed off my feet with my legs elevated for the first two weeks. My husband learnt how to use the washing machine and I did a lot of reading.
Bunion surgery recovery time
The first two weeks
Two weeks after surgery, I had to get the train down to London to have my stitches out and my feet checked. To be honest, the journey wasn’t a problem and after my appointment, I was taken around the National Gallery in a wheelchair by my husband. I was given a special pair of supportive post-op shoes, which keep the weight on your heels rather than your toes and I found weight bearing perfectly comfortable.
Weeks two to four
I did a lot of physiotherapy from week two to two months. You need to do a lot of ‘wriggling’ exercises to ensure your feet and toes don’t become stiff. It was probably the hardest part, because your feet are a bit sore, but you know that it is important and worthwhile.
Weeks four to eight
I used a walking stick for extra support whenever I felt tired. By four months, I was using it very rarely and by six months, not at all. I was able to stand without pain or stiffness and by four months, was getting back to a fairly full range of my normal activities. I stuck with my flat shoes, but was comfortable in my normal shoes again.
Two months to six months
Nine months after surgery, I went to Santorini island in Greece and climbed up and down a volcano without any trouble at all. I’m able to go out and enjoy a party wearing high Prada heels, feeling comfortable all evening.
What would your advice be to anyone considering bunion surgery?
Having bunion surgery has really transformed my life. I’m very glad that I decided to have the surgery and I didn’t find any part of the recovery particularly painful or difficult. It is certainly worth doing, rather than living with the pain and limitations of bunions.