5 Things to Do When Recovering from Foot or Ankle Surgery

Sep 7, 2018

When you have a foot or ankle injury or condition, our first step in providing treatment is to identify potential conservative (nonsurgical) options to take away your pain and restore normal foot function. We might recommend custom orthotics or MLS Laser Therapy to help repair damage from an injury.

The good news is that we are able to treat many patients without needing to use surgical intervention.

That said, sometimes we do need to recommend surgery. There are cases wherein it is either the best or only option available to resolve the problem.

The actual procedure itself is, naturally, an important part of making sure you get better. At the same time, the recovery process also plays a key role in this.

A big part of recovery is giving your body time to use natural processes to mend and strengthen tissues. As this happens, you will likely need to keep weight off the repaired limb. Rest plays an integral role in healing, after all.

Being Active When You Need to Take It Easy

After your surgery, you may need to shelve normal activities—especially physical ones like exercising and sports—for a certain period. Our MLS Laser Therapy can reduce your pain and get you back on your feet faster!

Since you won’t be able to hit the courts or go for a run, you will need other activities to keep you busy (and sane) while you recover.

To help with this, we’ve compiled a list of some things you actually can do when recovering from foot or ankle surgery, including:

  1. Binge watch a show (or two). The original “Golden Age of Television” was back in the 1950’s, but we’re now in the midst of a second one. There are so many current and recent critically-acclaimed and popular television shows—along with the technology to watch them—that you don’t have to worry about being bored during your recovery.

No matter what your cup of tea might be (comedy, suspense, fantasy, etc.), you can certainly find several series that could become your new favorites. And if you’d like to venture back to the original “Golden Age,” streaming television services give you that option as well.

  1. Go “old school” and read some books. Watching a quality show can be a great experience, but you can dive even deeper when you get into a good book. One particular advantage books have over shows is the simple fact you have considerably more options.

Whereas television is a technology that was invented less than a hundred years ago, written stories have been around for ages. (Gutenberg’s invention of the printing press back in 1439 obviously contributed to mass production, but the earliest written work—The Epic of Gilgamesh—was created somewhere around 2100 B.C.)

As was the case with Gutenberg’s printing press, some fairly recent technological advances give you more reading options than you previously would have had at your disposal. Your ability to go out and get books might be limited, but you can use a tablet or e-reader (Nook, Kindle, etc.) to bring the books to you!

  1. Train your brain with crossword or sudoku puzzles. As you recovery from your surgery, you might not be able to exercise your body like you otherwise would, but you can still train your brain!

Crossword and sudoku puzzles can provide a great workout for your brain, which studies continually show to be a valuable practice as we age. More than that, the challenges they provide can be a lot of fun and provide you with a tremendous feeling of accomplishment when you complete them.

  1. Give postal employees extra work – write some letters. Communication in our modern age often is a matter of email and texts. Since you have to physically rest your body, this is a great opportunity to pleasantly surprise loved ones and friends by sending them handwritten letters. Even if you think you aren’t a great writer, you’d be amazed at how appreciative they will be when your letter arrives in the mail!
  2. Plan a dream vacation. Even if you don’t have the funds to travel to exotic locations, you do have a lot of time on your hands – so spend some time thinking about where you’d like to go if you did have the money for it, and then start digging in with a little research.

In doing so, you’ll have to figure out what your travel arrangements would be, where you’d stay, and what activities you want to do when you’re there. Something you might want to keep in mind for this activity is the fact that vacations can be both too short and too long, so determine how long you’re going to spend abroad (or domestically, if that’s your preference). Also, give some thought as to who you would take with you. Your spouse? Kids? Close friends?

You have so many options and the internet makes it easy to do the research you need to plan this all out. Once your done, file it away for a later day (in case you have the opportunity to make it a reality!).

These are all things you can do when recovering from surgery, but remember that the most important thing is to follow doctor orders. (They are written so you can get better in the shortest possible amount of time!)

Start Planning Now

As is true in virtually any area of life, better results come from making plans ahead of time. With that in mind, let’s look at components of postsurgical care and identify measures you can take before your surgery for smooth results:

  • Make travel plans – This definitely isn’t the same as planning a dream vacation, but it’s a very important consideration! Due to anesthesia used for your procedure, it is rather unlikely you will be able to drive home following your surgery. Give your loved one or friend enough notice so he or she will be able to make their own plans.
  • Plan for rest – Surgery can be partially defined as “planned physical trauma.” Your body is not designed to be cut into and have parts removed, rearranged, or otherwise altered. That said, the human body has a remarkable ability to heal itself and recover from procedures. For this recovery to happen, however, you need to rest.

Since you need to give your body the opportunity to heal itself, take the time beforehand to make plans for rest. This means requesting time off of work (even if you have a “desk job,” since you will likely need to keep your affected limb elevated). You also need to take child care into consideration, especially if you are a parent to younger children.

  • Dress appropriately – When planning your outfit for the day of your surgery, pick clothing that is loose and comfortable. Why is this important for your recovery? Well, putting on a pair of skinny jeans or other tight-fitting pants can potentially irritate the surgical site or remove scar tissue, which creates the possibility of infection.
  • Review your hygiene routine – Your postop instructions may include keeping the surgical site dry. This could, naturally, affect your normal hygiene routine, especially if you shower or bathe daily (which is good practice). Before you come in for your procedure, take time to figure out what you will need to with regards to hygienic practices during your recovery period.
  • Make meal plans – The odds are pretty low that your kitchen is in your bedroom, which means you probably have to walk to the kitchen. Depending on your home layout, this can even entail having to go up and down stairs. If you have a spouse or children who aren’t really young, you may have to enlist their help. Communicating this with them early is a good idea so you can stay off your feet when you need to.

Postoperative Care and Considerations

Planning beforehand is a huge step in making sure your recovery is a successful one, but so too is actually taking the appropriate postop measures.

It is difficult to overstate the importance of postsurgical care in the recovery process. After all, this stage is essential for your health and safety. As such, it is incredibly important for you to follow the specific postoperative instructions we provide.

Some general considerations and components we may include in your postsurgical plan include:

  • Rest – Surgery is a big deal. If it wasn’t, we wouldn’t take as many measures as possible to avoid using it as a treatment option. Since it is, though, you will need to give your body the chance to perform its natural healing processes after the procedure.
  • Medication – Depending on your procedure and situation, we will likely recommend or prescribe some form of medication for you. The pain relieving properties of medicine certainly plays a role, but the anti-inflammatory ones can be immensely helpful in assisting with your recovery.
  • Restricted movement – In time, the amount and range of movement will increase, but we may recommend you limit how much you move the affected area for at least a certain period of time.
  • Assistive devices – We may issue or prescribe braces, casts, or other devices to help you keep weight off of the repaired, but still allow you to be mobile.
  • Physical therapy – As you recover, it will be necessary for you to gradually ease into physical movement. To that end, physical therapy is a key part of postsurgical care. Stretching and strengthening exercises are essential for making sure your movement is as natural as possible.
  • Hygienic practices – The potential for infection is one of the risks of surgery. This risk doesn’t end once the procedure is completed, though. It is essential that you keep any insertion points clean to reduce your infection risk.
  • Follow-up appointments – Don’t worry, you’re not on your own after the surgery! We will schedule follow-up appointments to monitor your progress and ensure everything is mending like it should.

Comprehensive Foot and Ankle Care

As we noted earlier, there is a good chance we will be able to treat your foot or ankle condition using nonsurgical methods. If we do recommend surgery, you can take comfort in the fact we’ve been able to help many patients find relief from pain and improved foot function through surgical intervention – and we can do the same for you!

For more information about foot and ankle surgeries, or to request an appointment with Sunshein Podiatry Associates, simply give us a call at (937) 435-7477 or fill out our online form and contact us online right now.

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