Where you have a ‘fusion’ surgery or a corrective surgery which involved re-shaping the bones of your foot you are at risk of non-union. After surgery the bones usually heal together (or in the case of fusion the two bones usually grow together to form one bone).
Sometimes this process does not happen as intended, and the bones do not heal. This is called a non-union. Non-union can be painful and if your symptoms do not settle you might require further surgery to control the pain by a further attempt at fusion or indeed to remove metalwork.
Non-union usually takes between 3 and 6 months to establish.
You are more likely to suffer non-union if you are overweight (BMI > 25), if you smoke or vape, take steroid tablets, are diabetic, or if you take drugs such as Ibuprofen, diclofenac (voltarol) or naproxen during your recovery. You should stop smoking at least 6 weeks ahead of surgery to reduce your risk.
Unfortunately nicotine in cigarettes, patches, gum and vaping all make you much more likely to suffer with wound infections, non-union and ongoing pain after surgery.