Betsy Schindler loves to take care of her horses, hike throughout the Midlands and exercise at the gym. But a bunion on her right foot made it all increasingly difficult.
At age 59, the Elgin woman had been dealing with the bunion for years. A bunion is a bony bump caused by a malalignment of the big toe joint. Factors such as heredity, the shape of a person’s foot or even the type of shoes someone wears can lead to bunions.
“It was painful no matter what I did, but especially when my shoes pressed on it. And there were no shoes I could find that didn’t make it worse,” Betsy said. “The big toe pressed into the second toe because the bunion was so bad. It was at the point where I couldn’t straighten the second toe at all. That was also getting very painful.”
Betsy wanted to start exercising and enjoying the outdoors again. So, she made an appointment to see Amanda J. Warner, DPM, podiatrist at Lexington Podiatry, a Lexington Medical Center physician practice, at Dr. Warner’s office in Northeast Columbia.
Dr. Warner understood the problem and crafted a plan.
“Betsy had tried different shoes along with different activities at home to avoid overusing her foot,” Dr. Warner said. “With the amount of pain she had and all the things she wanted to be able to do, we made the decision together to have it surgically corrected.”
Dr. Warner performed an outpatient surgical procedure. She cleaned out arthritic parts of the joint, including bone spurs and bumps, to create a healthy joint.
Bones take anywhere from six to eight weeks to heal, which meant Betsy had to keep all her weight off her foot and use crutches.
“A couple of years ago, I came off a horse and broke my pelvis, so I thought I could handle crutches. This experience was totally different because your foot can’t come close to the ground. The recovery took longer and was more difficult for the bunion than for the broken pelvis,” Betsy said. “It definitely takes more strength than I realized to try to balance without putting weight on the foot. I’m glad I didn’t wait until I was older. I’m glad I did it when I could still get around on one foot pretty well.”
After several weeks, Betsy started to put weight on her foot, then wore a cast, followed by a boot and surgical shoe.
Within a few months after surgery, Betsy started walking with her dogs and horses again. Ultimately, she was back to walking long distances and going on camping trips with no difficulty.
She got her active life back. As a bonus, she rediscovered the shoes in her closet.
“Now I’m back in all the shoes I had before that I was afraid I would never be able to wear again,” Betsy said. “I was thrilled about it.”
For Dr. Warner, the surgery was successful in meeting her goal of making sure patients have a “pain-free, functional foot.”
“Whether we get it conservatively or surgically, the goal is to get you doing what you want to do and be pain free doing it” Dr. Warner said. “In Betsy’s case, she’s active. Being able to give those activities back to her by taking away her pain is significant.”
Amanda J. Warner, DPM, Lexington Podiatry