After being laid up due to a foot or ankle surgery, you’re probably more than ready to get back on your feet. But when it comes to postsurgical care, you need patience. It can take up to six months for your foot or ankle to feel normal, and up to a year to completely heal. Your overeagerness during the healing process may delay your recovery.
To help you get back on your feet, our team at Family Foot and Ankle Clinic provides individualized instructions on how to care for your foot or ankle following surgery and what to expect during your recovery.
The recovery period
Advances in medical technology now allow us to perform most foot and ankle procedures using minimally invasive surgery, which has been an absolute game changer, especially when it comes to recovery. It not only allows us to perform the surgery at the office but also shortens your recovery time.
However, the length of time it takes for you to get back on your feet after depends on the complexity of your surgery, your overall health, and your compliance with our at-home care instructions. In general, it takes a minimum of three months — and maybe even up to six months — for the pain to go away. And while you may be pain-free, it can still take up to a year for you to get full mobility and function back.
Caring for your foot and ankle after surgery
To get back on your feet as quickly as possible, we provide specific instructions on how to care for your foot or ankle following surgery. Here are a few of the basics.
Stay off your feet as long as your doctor specifies
You may not realize the amount of stress your feet and ankle endure every day until you can’t use them, which is why we recommend you stay off your feet after surgery. Putting any amount of weight on your foot or ankle may damage the work you had done. Your bones and skin need time to heal before you can use them.
We realize that being unable to place weight on your foot or ankle can be inconvenient, so we work with you to provide the best method for helping you get around, which may include:
- A knee scooter
- A seated scooter, which is similar to a wheelchair but narrower and lighter
Like your total recovery, how long you need to stay off your feet varies, but our team will give you an estimate, and then let you know if that changes as you heal.
When you can walk, wear the right shoes
Once you’re able to support weight on your foot, shoes become very important. We may start you out with a special shoe, a cast, or a boot for extra protection and support as you gain your mobility during the initial healing period. In some cases, these special shoes may allow you to bear weight on your feet a lot faster.
When you’re ready for regular shoes, you may need to purchase new ones to fit your new foot size, which may be larger than normal due to swelling. We recommend comfortable, supportive shoes.
Good postsurgical shoes should:
- Have enough room for your toes to wiggle around
- Have non-slip soles
- Have a low heel (no more than one inch)
- Offer good arch support
We can provide you with some brand and style recommendations so you know what to look for.
Do your prescribed exercises after podiatric surgery
After being off your feet for a while, you may notice that your foot and ankle aren’t quite as strong or flexible as they used to be. To restore function, strength, flexibility, and mobility, you’re going to need to work out your foot or ankle. We’ll provide instructions on exercises you can do at home, but we may send you to physical therapy if it’s needed.
Your physical therapist develops an exercise plan that fits your needs, taking into consideration both your lifestyle at home and your work life, to maximize your recovery.
The goal of podiatric surgery is to help you get back on your feet, but you need to be patient during your road to recovery. As experts in ankle and foot surgery, we can help you get there.
If you need podiatric surgery or have questions about what to expect during recovery, call Family Foot and Ankle Clinic at one of our Wisconsin locations.