Long-acting local anesthetics will typically keep your post surgical site “numb” for a period of 12-18 hours. Over this period of time, limiting your activity and elevating your extremity above your heart is important. Short periods of ambulation with or without crutches as instructed will be possible including short trips of no more than 10 minutes per hour for the first 3-5 days.
Pain management is a critical factor in the early recovery from any foot and ankle surgery. Aggressive pain management including the use of local anesthetics at the conclusion of your surgery is critical for pain reduction. It is always gratifying as a surgeon to hear from patients post operatively that there was “little” pain after surgery.
Pain control is generally provided by two pain medications, including an anti-inflammatory medication called Toradol and a narcotic medication called Vicodin or Percocet. Toradol is an anti-inflammatory medication that has strong pain-relieving properties. Toradol is typically taken every 6 hours with meals after surgery for the first three to four days whether or not you are having pain. The narcotic pain medications including Vicodin or Percocet are taken every four to six hours as needed when pain occurs. These medications can be taken in conjunction with Toradol.
If you experience gastrointestinal distress or nausea you should call your surgeon immediately.
The Recovery Period
It will be very important for the first three to five days to use ice and foot and ankle elevation to decrease swelling. Limited amount of walking as allowed for your specific foot or ankle surgery should be performed over the first three to five days post operatively. Short trips to and from the bathroom and no more than 10 minutes of foot dependency per hour for the first several days are encouraged. Frequent elevation of the extremity for the first two weeks is encouraged.
Additional healing aids including medical grade silicone including Scar Guard can help to lessen your scar as well as scar creams including Maderma which can lighten the color of your scar. Surgical scars remodel and change shape, color and texture for up to one year post operatively. Although scarring is usually minimal is can be somewhat more pronounced at joints due to movement of the joint during healing. Friction occurring from footwear can also influence the size of scars. Being sensible about shoes worn as well as using silicone-based scar care products may lessen the degree of scarring over the joint.
The overall recovery varies between patients and is based on the type of surgery performed. Generally, most patients at three months post surgical correction should feel like there is “light at the end of the tunnel” and they have returned to near-normal activity including daily activities and fitness endeavors. There maybe some ongoing swelling and pain in the foot and ankle that may influence the types of shoes that can be worn at this time, but overall recovery is near complete.