Postoperative Care Foot and Ankle Surgery
Table of Contents
The type of foot surgery performed determines the length and kind of aftercare required to assure that your recovery from surgery is uneventful. The basics of all postoperative care involve to some degree each of the following: rest, ice, compression, and elevation. Bandages, splints, surgical shoes, casts, knee walkers, crutches, or canes may be necessary to improve and ensure a safe recovery after foot surgery. It will also determine, if and when, you can bear weight on your foot after the operation. We want you to have a satisfactory and speedy recovery, and this outcome can be achieved by carefully following the postoperative instructions that you have discussed prior to and immediately after surgery. It is extremely important that you understand the amount of follow up you will need after surgery and keep your follow up appointments.
Postoperative Care Activities:
- After discharge from the surgery center, go directly home
- Rest the remainder of the day and limit your activities
- Keep children and pets away from your operative foot or ankle
- Limit your walking or standing until you see your Surgeon for your follow up visit
- If applicable, wear your surgical shoe or CAM walker at all times when walking.
- You should NOT bear weight on the operative foot unless you were otherwise instructed.
- Use crutches, walker, knee scooter for assistance as instructed.
- You can NOT drive for 24 hours after surgery or while taking the pain medication. You can NOT drive with a cast or CAM boot on your driving foot.
- You should NOT drive with the operative foot until cleared by the Surgeon.
- Gradually advance your diets from liquids (soup, jello) to light meals (toast, crackers)
- There are no dietary restrictions. Resume your regular diet as tolerated
- At all times, drink plenty of liquids in order to avoid dehydration
Cold Therapy & Elevation
- Expect swelling after your surgery. Ice will help reduce pain and swelling.
- Keep your foot elevated (higher than heart-level) while you are sitting or lying down. This will help decrease pain and prevent swelling. Keep this support and positioning until your first post-operative visit
- The day of surgery – Ice bags should be applied to the surgical area over the bandage or if a cast is applied behind the knee over a towel 20 minutes per hour every hour until bedtime.
- The first week after surgery – use ice bags three times a day for 20 minutes. Then as needed
- Do NOT place ice bags directly on your skin, always have a protective barrier
Offloading and Weight-bearing Status
- You will be placed in a special cast, boot or shoe after surgery
- You will be non-weight bearing unless otherwise instructed
- Use crutches, walker, knee scooter for assistance as instructed.
Bandages and Wound Care:
- Keep your dressing or cast dry and intact. Do not remove your dressing unless specifically instructed by your surgeon. If bandages or cast become saturated or wet call the office immediately.
- DO NOT remove the bandage, boot or cast after surgery
- Your boot will be removed and your dressing changed within one week after surgery
- To shower, cover bandage/cast with plastic wrap or cast bag. DO NOT get bandage/cast wet
- Bleeding is expected and your bandage may become stained. If your bandage becomes soaked with blood please contact the office you were seen at pre-operatively.
Postoperative Care Pain Medication:
- Take postoperative medications prescribed by the surgeon. If unsure of the medication or the possibility of an allergy, do not take medication and contact your surgeon immediately
- The night after surgery you may take one to two tablets every four to six hours as needed. Usually, but not always, by the third day after surgery your foot/ankle/leg will begin to feel better and you will require less medication.
- We recommend taking these medications with food.
- Many pain medications contain Tylenol or Acetaminophen, DO NOT consume more than 3,000 mg of Acetaminophen in one day.
- DO NOT take Advil or Aleve or Tylenol unless instructed otherwise by your physician.
- DO NOT drink alcohol, smoke, drive a car, operate any machinery, or work with heavy equipment while taking your prescription pain medication.
- You may apply ice over your foot/ankle to help with pain and swelling. Use ice only when you are awake and make sure that it does not leak and get your dressing wet.
- DO NOT use hot water bottles or electric heating blankets.
- We do not recommend traveling for extended periods of time after your surgery
- Sponge baths may be taken, but you must keep the surgical site dry.
What to expect:
- Temporary numbness or tingling (usually resolved after the first few days. Maybe longer)
- Pain at the operative site. (The degree of pain depends on the type of surgical procedure)
- Throbbing when the leg is hanging down (example: when sitting in a chair)
- Bruising and swelling to the toes and discoloration and swelling to the toes
- Drowsiness, especially if taking any narcotic medication. (Do not drive or operate any machinery or care for infants or young children while taking narcotics, i.e, pain medication)
Call the office/surgeon if you experience any of the following:
- Fever greater than 101 degrees Fahrenheit
- Chills or sweats
- Persistent or increased pain not responding to pain medication
- Tightness from dressing or cast
- Persistent nausea or vomiting
- Red streaks going up the foot or leg
- Unsure of any postoperative instructions
- Dressing or cast gets wet
- Odor or drainage coming from the surgical wound
- Excessive bleeding through the dressing or cast
- Abnormal reaction to the medication
- Accident or injury to the operative site
- Significant swelling, numbness or bleeding
Call 911 or Go immediately to the Emergency Room if you should experience:
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Chest pain or discomfort
- Become excessively lethargic or unconscious
- Significant pain I the calf muscle which is the muscle behind the lower leg. This may indicate a blood clot in your leg and needs to be seen in an emergency room immediately
Postoperative Care Follow-up Appointment:
- Call the office if you have not already scheduled your follow-up appointment. We would like to see you with-in 3-5 days after your surgery.
- You will be instructed as to whether crutches/walker/knee scooter will be used or not the following surgery
- Your ability to weightier will also be disclosed to you by your Surgeon. Non-weight bearing means there should be no weight on the foot at any time.
- After hours, if you have any questions or concerns, call the office number
Call Our Marietta, Georgia Office Today at 404-806-3731, or Book your appointment online now!
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