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What You Need to Know About Recovering From Foot and Ankle Surgery

What You Need to Know About Recovering From Foot and Ankle Surgery

Our feet and ankles are some of the most important, heavily relied-upon, and often ignored areas of our body. Add in the fact that they are composed of 50+ bones and joints, multiple muscles, tendons, and ligaments, and we have an area of the body that cannot be dismissed when pain occurs.

Thankfully, the world of orthopedic surgery offers up incredible ways to repair and restore these hard working body parts should you sustain an injury. If you are contemplating a foot and ankle surgery here is everything you will want to know about what the recovery will look like.

What To Expect

When you opt for surgery on your feet or ankles there are three main questions to answer regarding your healing. You will want to know what to expect when you awake from surgery, how long your recovery will take, and what the rehabilitation plan will be. Here is what you need to know:

Directly Post-op. When you wake up after surgery you will need some time to let the anesthetic wear off. Once your orthopedic surgeon gives the ok, you will be free to go home with someone- either a friend or family member who can drive and help you. The first two weeks after surgery you will be strictly resting and elevating your foot, or feet, to alleviate swelling and help speed up the healing process. Some ways to prepare for surgery are:

  • Pre-cook and have ready made meals on hand for the first two weeks especially.
  • Have someone stay with you for the first few days to help you get around, manage your pain medication, and help with cooking and cleaning.
  • Make a plan to have someone take responsibility for duties regarding kids, pets, or other dependants.
  • Set your bed up with extra pillows for you to prop yourself and your leg up.
  • Have water, snacks, and entertainment available for when you are awake.

Recovery Timelines. How long your recovery will take depends on the type of surgery you recieved, the extent of the injury/damage, and your overall health before heading into the procedure. One thing that is for sure is how important it is to listen to your orthopedic surgeon’s instructions for recovery. Trying to get back to work too quickly, putting too much pressure on your foot or ankle too soon, and not getting enough rest are surefire ways to slow your recovery, or even worse, reinjure the area. After surgery you will have a bandage covering the incision and sutures that your doctor may want to check on at some point to ensure they are healing well. The related swelling and bruising can take anywhere from 2-4 months to disappear completely.

Rehabilitation. After foot surgery and ankle surgery, you will most likely be required to take part in a program that will speed up the healing and recuperation of the area, while also strengthening the surrounding muscles, tendons, and ligaments. Some people opt to complete a rehab program with a physiotherapist, while others choose to complete exercises at home with the guidance of their orthopedic surgeon. Here is what you can expect:

  1. Wearing footwear again can take anywhere from 2-8 weeks depending on which procedure is completed. If the surgery requires you to wear a cast you can expect it to take up to 16 weeks before wearing a shoe on that foot again.
  2. Returning to work can happen sooner if you have a desk job that allows you to keep your foot elevated and rested while working. If your work cannot accommodate this because your job is active, this may delay your return to work date. Many companies will find a position for you at a desk until given the go ahead from your doctor to return to your full duties.
  3. At the guidance of your surgeon, your first activity will be standing while taking a few steps throughout the day. Light activity such as walking will be allowed sometime within the 3-8 week point at first with a gradual increase in pressure, impact, and intensity over time. Should your surgery require a cast, the start of your rehabilitation program will be delayed until the cast is removed.

Quality Surgical Care In The Okanagan

Foot and ankle surgeries can feel nerve racking and sometimes a little scary. But if your surgeon recommends it for you it’s because the benefit to you, your body, your happiness and your lifestyle will far outweigh the risks, frustrations, and healing time. The most important thing to keep in mind is to follow your orthopedic surgeon’s recommendations for expedited healing.

If you are looking for world class orthopedic surgeons, you will be in capable hands with the team at Okanagan Health Surgical Centre in Kelowna, BC. Conveniently located downtown on Richter Street, you can take advantage of fly-in, fly-out surgery all while enjoying the stunning landscapes of the beautiful Okanagan. Reach out for a consultation to discuss your specific needs by filling out the form below, or by calling (250) 868-9799 or toll free: 1-877-505-8895.


Q: How can I ensure a speedy recovery from foot surgery?
A: Follow your surgeon’s recommendations to a tee. Typically, they will prescribe the following:

  • Ensure adequate rest and relaxation.
  • Eat healthy foods and drink plenty of water.
  • Follow a physical therapy program as recommended.
  • Elevate the foot above your heart as much as possible.

Q: How long until you can walk again after ankle surgery?
A: After an orthopedic surgery such as ankle surgery, you will most likely have to keep all weight off of it for a minimum of 6 weeks. Your doctor will recommend the use of crutches until they feel comfortable with you adding weight slowly, and for increasingly longer periods, over time.

Q: What kind of doctor should I see for foot and ankle surgery?
A: An orthopedic surgeon will be the type of doctor you will want to operate on your foot and/or ankles because they can treat the entire body, if needed. Often, foot or ankle pain and injury can start in, or be related to, the ligaments and muscles of the knees and hips. Due to these factors, an Orthopedic surgeon can treat the body holistically if needed.


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