Care Information for Post-Surgery
The following care information will provide proper instruction for post-surgery care. This information is provided in order to make your recovery as successful and quick as possible. Please follow the outlined procedures to the best of your ability.
Our standard protocol for recovery of an ankle procedure is:
- Ice and Elevate the foot for 20 minutes every hour during waking hours.
- Keep your dressings intact by keeping them clean and dry.
- If wearing a fracture boot you may bear weight on it as tolerated.
- Fracture boots may be taken on and off to shower/bathe and sleep.
- When the boot is off, we highly encourage you to move your foot around to stimulate a proper range of motion.
- Post-op day 5-7: You will have your first office visit where we will change your dressings, assess how recovery of surgery site is doing and address any problems that might have arisen, while ensuring that you are as comfortable as possible.
- Post-op week 4: You will start to gradually increase your weight-bearing ability to full weight-bearing as your pain and swelling allow.
- You may need to use a night splint while you sleep to protect your foot.
- Physical Therapy will begin which will help to bring back strength, motion and flexibility.
- Post-op weeks 4-6: You will be allowed to remove your boot and begin to wear regular shoes as comfort and your doctor allow.
- Physical Therapy will continue for 4-8 weeks depending on your specific needs.
- Post-op week 8: If not already, you will be moved from your boot into regular pedestrian shoes.
- Physical Therapy may continue if your therapist and doctor agree that more time for healing is needed.
- Post-op weeks 10-12: Your final visit to your doctor where x-rays will be taken and studied to ensure that the healing process is nearly finished.
- If you have not yet been moved out of your boot, your doctor will request you do so at this time.
- Your doctor will speak to you to ensure that you are meeting all of your recovery goals
The above ankle surgeries are considered minor surgeries and have much shorter recovery times. The advantage to this is that the patient can regain mobility much sooner. We find that our patients are careful during recovery time so we allow them to put full weight on their ankle after their first post-op visit. Here is the protocol for these types of procedures:
- Implement the RICE method. Rest, Ice for 20 minutes every hour, Compress and Elevate your foot during waking hours
- Take care of your dressings by keeping them clean and dry
- If in a fracture boot and allowed by your doctor you may apply weight as needed to the injured foot.
- When you are not wearing your boot you should be moving your foot and ankle in order to maintain a range of motion and flexibility.
- Post-op day 5-7: This is when your first office visit will be. During your visit we will change your dressings so we can examine the surgical site, address any possible concerns and talk to you about your pain levels.
- Post-op weeks 4-6: If the doctor sees fit, you may be moved out of your boot and into pedestrian shoes.
- Physical Therapy will begin and continue for 4-8 weeks depending on your specific needs.
Protocol for boney procedures
Boney procedures are the most involved recovery wise. They require the most immobilization and take on average 8 weeks to heal to about 80% of normal strength. Once healed, progressive stress tests on the bone will begin to assess and accelerate remodeling of the bone. This will also improve its compression and tensile strength.
Standard protocol for recovery of a bone procedures is:
Immediately after surgery
- Dressings must remain intact until your initial visit. This means keeping them clean and dry.
- You must elevate and ice your foot for at least 20 minutes every hour during waking hours. Ice should not exceed 20 minutes.
- Depending on your condition you will not be allowed to bare any weight on the injured foot for the first 6 weeks. A knee-scooter and/or crutches will be necessary for mobility.
- Post-op day 5-7: Your first office visit will be scheduled at this time. The nurses and doctor will change your dressing and splint, assess the surgical site, address any problems, and speak to you about your comfort level and if there are any changes in your recovery goals. X-rays are usually taken at this visit to ensure proper recovery.
- Post-op week 2: Stitches will be removed.
- A below the knee cast will be fitted.
- You will continue to be non-weightbearing.
- Post-op week 4: Your cast will be changed. At this time your doctor and nurses will speak to you to assure that you are still comfortable, have no further questions or concerns and address any questions, concerns or problems that may have arisen.
- Post-op week 6: X-rays will be taken to see if there is enough bone healing to move you from your cast into a weight-bearing fracture boot.
- You will gradually be allowed to increase to full weight-bearing as your pain and swelling allow.
- Make sure you remove your boot to shower/bathe and sleep.
- If necessary, you may be asked to use a night splint to protect your foot and ankle while sleeping.
- Physical Therapy will begin
- Post-op weeks 10-12: X-rays will once again be taken to see if there is enough bone healing to move you out of your boot.
- Physical Therapy plays a critical role during this time. It will allow you to carefully transition as you work on your strength, motion and flexibility.
- Post-op week 16: Final x-rays will be taken to ensure the bone is fully healed.
- We will make sure that you are out of your boot, continuing to get better and meeting your recovery goals.
Forefoot surgery has the advantage of being a quicker healing procedure than boney procedures. Since we find our patients are careful during their recovery time, we allow them to start weight-bearing as soon as possible after surgery
Immediately after surgery
- You may bear weight in your fracture boot as tolerated.
- Your boot may be taken on and off to shower/bathe and sleep.
- Motion of your foot and ankle is encouraged when the boot is off.
- Please keep your dressings clean, dry and intact.
- Ice and elevate your foot for 20 minutes per hour while you are awake. Take care to not allow icing to exceed 20 minutes.
- Post-op days 5-7: At your first post-op office visit we will change your dressings, look for any possible problems at the surgical site, answer any questions you may have and make sure that you are comfortable and not in too much pain.
- Post-op week 2: We will remove your stitches and no additional dressings will be added. This means you may clean and moisturize your foot and leg.
- You will continue to walk in your fracture boot
- In some cases Physical Therapy will begin
- Post-op week 4-6: If your surgery involved bone(s) work you will be seen at post-op week 6 for x-rays
- You will be taken out of your boot and allowed to wear pedestrian shoes.
- Physical Therapy will continue as needed.
- Post-op week 10-12: Your final visit will be used to take x-rays, ensure you have been able to move out of your boot if you have not already done so, and make sure that you are meeting your recovery goals.