If you’re going to be having foot or ankle surgery in the near future, there are some things you can be doing right now to prepare and ensure you make a full and speedy recovery. Taking a few minutes now to read these tips will help you be both mentally and physically prepared for your operation.
PREPARE YOUR BODY WITH PHYSIOTHERAPY
The first thing to do is to begin preparing your body to deal with the impact of surgery. It is likely that your walking pattern has been affected by the chronic pain you’ve been experiencing. You may have pain in the ankle, knee, hip, back or other foot as a result.
A few physiotherapy treatments before you have surgery can help your body to adapt better post-operatively and give you the chance to discuss the recovery process.
Getting Around After Surgery
PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT SO TRY YOUR DEVICE IN ADVANCE
After surgery you will need some kind of walking aid. Factors like whether it needs to be weight-bearing or non weight-bearing, how good your balance is and how strong your upper limbs are will determine what sort of aid you are given. You may use a walking stick or elbow crutches, or a walking frame. Ideally, obtain your walking aid a week or so before your surgery to give you chance to practice using it.
If you are using a walking stick, the ideal height is to have the handle of the stick level with the bump on the side of your hip. A walking frame is the most stable option of all. You are likely to need some kind of physiotherapy or massage to combat any stiffness that occurs as a result of using whatever walking aid you are given.
KNOW WHAT TO DO TO REDUCE SWELLING
Feet and ankles are particularly prone to swelling as they are a long way from the heart and are subject to the effects of gravity.
A well-functioning lymphatic system is essential to help the body heal and to reduce swelling. Lymphatic drainage massage before you undergo surgery can help to ensure your system is functioning optimally. You may also choose to have a treatment post-operatively.
Other techniques for reducing swelling include:
- Keeping the foot raised higher than your heart for 20-30 minutes at a time.
- Try lying flat with a pillow to raise your foot higher than your heart.
- Move the foot or toes to assist with circulation and try to avoid standing for more than a few minutes at a time.
- Avoid alcohol as it dilates blood vessels which increases swelling.
- You should continue to use the surgical stockings that the hospital gives you once the bandages have been removed. Swelling can take six to 12 months to go down fully and the occasional use of surgical stockings will help with this.
Organise your home
MAKE THINGS EASIER FOR YOU WHEN YOU RETURN HOME
It is a good idea to plan ahead for the time when you will be less mobile post-surgery. If you live alone, make sure you have plenty of pre-prepared food in your fridge and freezer so you don’t have to spend time cooking. Keep the things you need to hand – books, DVDs, channel changers – so you minimise the amount of times you need to get up.
You might want to get a lap tray which can be useful for eating and reading.
The hospital will talk to you about bathing and showering. Bandages will need to be kept dry and you should shower sitting down so you don’t slip.
SOURCE ITEMS FOR YOUR COMFORT
You may need to wear specially adapted footwear after surgery. If your foot needs to be immobilised the hospital will give you a special type of shoe or boot to raise the height of your foot.
You might want to purchase a pair of Fitflops before your surgery, which are easy to slip on and will keep your other foot at the right height to prevent strain on your hips and lower back.
Shoes with elasticated uppers are also a good idea to accommodate any swelling you might experience in the foot that has been operated on.