Guidelines for a Successful Post-Operative Recovery

Hi, I’m Dr. O. There are many factors that contribute to having a successful post-operative recovery. We all understand that surgery is the only option in some cases. So lets make sure you have success. The following 10 guidelines will make sure that you get there:

First, read and understand all of the handouts that we give you; these handouts will answer many questions about your post-operative care.

Second, write down the questions that you have as you think of them. The best time to answer your questions is when you have your pre-operative consultation. I suggest that you bring your post-operative primary caregiver to your consultation. It is important that they know what to expect post-surgery and have the ability to ask questions, too.

Third, when we recommend icing and elevation…we mean it! Icing and elevating your surgical site will reduce swelling, reduce pain, and speed your recovery time.

Fourth, understand if after surgery you can put weight on your foot (which is called weight bearing) or if you can’t put weight on your foot (which is called non-weight bearing). If you are going to be non-weight bearing, how do you plan to achieve this? Are you going to use crutches or a knee walker? Have these devices ready prior to your surgery. Remember: crutches are difficult to manage over a long period of time; they quickly cause pain in your upper body and hands, and a lot of people do not have sufficient strength to manage them.

Fifth, do not change your own dressing unless you were instructed to. Dressings help to prevent infections. They also act as a splint to keep your bunions and toes aligned appropriately, and assist in immobilization. They help to control swelling, too.

Sixth, lets keep your pain under control. Have your pain medication filled at the pharmacy prior to your surgery.

Seventh, calf pain is not normal post-surgery. If you develop calf pain, or a cramped sensation in your calf, please call us; we need to rule out a blood clot. Blood clots are not common post-foot surgery, but if left untreated—they can cause serious complications.

Eighth, we highly recommend physical therapy post-most foot and ankle surgeries. By participating in physical therapy after surgery you will regain the strength in your lower extremities that has been lost by your post-operative immobilization. You will also regain the strength in the weeks to months prior to surgery when initially dealing with your injury or condition. Physical therapy will speed the return to your healthy, active lifestyle much faster, and without as much pain.

Ninth, use our pain laser to control your pain and swelling in the first week after surgery. The pain laser will help to reduce swelling, which will speed your recovery time and your healing time. It will also reduce the amount of pain medication that you have to take orally.

Tenth, call us with any concerns. There’s always a doctor on call to answer your questions. We want you to have a successful post-operative recovery.

Dr. Cynthia Oberholtzer-Classen, DPM
Founder and Owner of Podiatry Associates, PC