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If you need surgery to repair your foot or your ankle, you might feel overwhelmed by all of the scheduled procedures and the adjustments you will need to make to your life. Orthopedic surgery and podiatric surgery are tough, and ankle surgery recovery takes hard work. But this is a well-worn path, and in our experience there is a precise way to go about preparing for surgery and recovery. It’s just a process, and you can check it off point by point.
We have divided our guide down into four sections: The first touches on what to do before surgery, and the other three deal with different physical and mental aspects of recovery. The before-surgery section functions like a set of checklists, so you can actually print off that section and check off each point as you get prepared. The other three sections contain information that will become more and less relevant during different phases of your recovery, so keep that information accessible.
Patients with the fastest recovery times tend to be those who plan for their surgeries well in advance. Planning sounds like a chore, especially if you feel as though your impending procedure is hanging over you like a cloud, but doing the following work ahead of time, while you are still mobile, will save you so many headaches during your ankle surgery recovery period. Ultimately, you will struggle less, recover faster and find it easier to keep a positive mindset while you heal.
Scars usually develop when the skin is cut. In some patients prone towards scarring, abnormal scarring may develop. Some scars may look unattractive, become enlarged or thickened, develop changes in pigment (skin color) around the scar, or become sensitive. Dr. Ahmadi attempts to minimize the potential problems associated with scarring (by placing incisions in areas that are less susceptible to problematic scar formation, by making curved or odd-shaped incisions that diminish tension, or by using certain types of suture or closure methods, for example), the foot itself is particularly vulnerable to problematic scar formation because there is increased tension on the skin from swelling and from weight-bearing. Because you walk on it, the bottom of the foot is particularly sensitive to problematic scar formation.
When you get home after an ankle surgery, the 1st two weeks, you will need to rest. Your friends and family can help you to do most daily tasks. However, you should be able to do your own basic care tasks (such as getting dressed, using the toilet, etc).
You might find that just doing these simple tasks takes up most of your energy. This is normal and you should not get discouraged. Some people start to feel ‘down’ when they are at home recovering because it can be hard to do things that were easy before the surgery. Just keep in mind that you will get better with time. Having friends and family around to support you can make you feel better too. Each day you will heal more but there are things that you can do to help yourself get better faster.
- Rest as much as you can.
- Eat nutritious and healthy food.
- Do any exercises given to you by your physiotherapist or surgeon.
- Follow the instructions your surgeon gave you about how much weight you can put through your surgical foot.
- Do not remove the dressing, plaster cast, or boot.
- Do not get your foot wet.
- Go to all follow up visits with your surgeon and physiotherapist so that they can make sure you are healing the way you should be.
Bone spurs, or osteophytes, are bony projections that form along joints, and are often seen in conditions such as arthritis. Bone spurs are largely responsible for limitations in joint motion and can cause pain. Most bone spur formations are because the body is trying to increase the surface area of the joint to better distribute weight across a joint surface that has been damaged by arthritis or other conditions. Unfortunately, this is largely wasted effort by our body as the bone spur can become restrictive and painful.
Bone spurs themselves are not problematic, but they are a signal of an underlying problem that often needs to be addressed. Bone spurs are often documented to help assess the severity of a condition such as arthritis.
There is a 10% chance that you could have problems from your surgery. Your surgeon will tell you if your surgery has a greater chance of problems. You are the best judge of how your foot or ankle problem affects your life now, so only you can decide whether or not to have surgery.
There are two main problems that can occur after foot and ankle surgery:
1. The effect on you – the ‘hassle factor’
Right after your foot and ankle surgery, you may experience more pain than before the surgery and it may be harder to do things. Time is needed to recover from your surgery. You must be be prepared to take time off from your work and regular activities. You might need someone to help you with cooking, cleaning, or to driving to medical visits. Depending on which foot is being operated on, you might not be able to drive for many weeks after your surgery. All of these things can make having foot surgery a challenge.
2. The surgery can cause new problems
The chances are usually low but there is always a chance that the surgery will make worsen your original problem, or cause a new problem. Possible problems you may encounter:
- The wound heals too slowly.
- The wound gets infected.
- The bones heal too slowly.
- The surgery makes your joints or muscles stiff and harder to move.
These problems usually go away after time and most of them do not affect whether the surgery helps you in the long term.
Dr. Ahmadi specializes in reconstructive surgical and non-surgical care for children and adults as well as a wide variety of foot and ankle diseases and disorders. He places emphasis on educating patients about the function and dynamics of the foot and ankle in order to prevent future problems.
The foot and ankle are critically important to the health of the entire body. Dr. Ahmadi strives to help his patients understand these connections and develop useful ways to maintain a healthy functioning of the foot and ankle in relation to movement and posture. Positive results may significantly affect the issues of knee, hip, spinal function, vascular circulation, lung and heart function and emotional well being. Dr. Ahmadi offers the most advanced state of the art techniques for pain-free surgical and non-surgical treatment of any foot and ankle pathology. His goal for each patient is painless and pleasing results with early return to activity.
If you are suffering from any of the following conditions, contact Dr. Ahamdi in Mission Viejo: