Finishing Touches: Post-Operative Care for Feet & Ankles

You had been living in pain for some time. Finally you took the big step to have foot surgery to take care of your condition. You went in, had all the necessary tests, and showed up to your procedure on time. It all went smoothly and you are now well on your way to recovering. Here comes the final, key stage that has an enormous impact on how quickly and effectively your foot heals: your post-operative care.

Why Your Post-Op Matters

Post Operation Foot and Ankle Surgery Care TipsPost-operative care is any treatment you receive after a surgical procedure that’s related to your recovery. This includes helping incisions heal and stay clear of infection, managing your pain, and rehabilitating your body so you can return to normal activities. Following these processes make it less likely that you will develop complications after your procedure, as well as enable you to regain your lower limb strength, stability, and range of motion.

Your feet and ankles are vulnerable after surgery. An incision opens them up to infections, and inactivity while you heal weakens the limb. Your post-procedure foot care works to prevent complications, facilitate healing, and restore full function. This does take time, but failing to properly treat the lower limbs after a foot or ankle surgery can lead to issues later that may actually limit your mobility and strength.

What to Expect after Surgery

Immediately after the surgery, the incision will be covered by a bandage. In some cases, your limb may be placed in a cast or special boot to immobilize it for a period of time. You’ll be treated for pain, inflammation, and swelling around the incision site. Your limb will be elevated to combat fluid build-up in your soft tissues. Once you’re safe to go home, you’ll be given instructions to take care of your lower limb during the next several weeks. This can involve keeping the surgery site clean and clear of infection, as well as physical therapy to work on your limb mobility.

Important Home Care Information

Following all post-operative care instructions when you get home and making it to follow-up appointments is crucial. Allowing an infection to take hold, re-injuring yourself, or failing to regain mobility can undo all the positive progress from your procedure. Your exact home care instructions will vary depending on the type of surgery, but could include:

  • Rest – Take a break from most of your usual activities to let your tissues repair themselves.

  • Ice – This helps combat inflammation. Follow instructions with regards to how long and how often to apply ice.

  • Elevate – Keep your foot above the height of your heart as much as possible following surgery. This keeps fluid from pooling in your foot and causing swelling.

  • Medication – If you are prescribed pain killers, take them as you are directed.

  • Avoid Alcohol – Alcohol can dangerously interact with pain medication, so avoid it completely until recovery is complete.

  • Hydrate – Hydration is essential for your body’s normal functions, including tissue repair. Drink plenty of water every day.

  • Clean and Check the Incision – Don’t let your surgery site become dirty. Follow instructions to keep it clean and identify signs of an infection. Have any issues investigated immediately.

  • Physical Therapy – Your limb doesn’t return to full strength on its own. Restore your flexibility and strength by following directions and doing your exercises every day.

Post-operative care is just as important for your recovery as the surgery itself. It has the power to restore your lower limbs to full health, or undo all the work done in them. You need the very best in both surgical and post-surgery care. Let the experts at Podiatry Associates, P.C. in Castle Pines and Parker, CO, take care of your feet and ankles during these crucial times. Call (303) 805-5156 to make an appointment with Dr. Oberholtzer-Classen and the team so we can start your feet on the path to healing.

Photo Credit: Hans via