The following instructions are for your benefit in order to minimize swelling and pain, and to promote healing. Please follow these instructions completely unless otherwise directed by your surgeon.
1) On the way home from the surgery center, elevate your feet if possible. Once home, elevate your feet above the level of the heart with your knee slightly bent for the first 24-48 hours. After this time period, you may elevate your feet 6-8 inches above the level of the hips whenever not walking. Elevation helps to reduce swelling and inflammation, which will in turn reduce pain.
2) Use cold packs behind your ankles (or behind your knee if in a cast or splint), or use the Cryo-Cuff if dispensed from the surgery center as directed. You should apply this for 20 minutes out of each hour that you are awake. Avoid sleeping with icing or a Cryo-Cuff as it can cause thermal skin damage overnight. Perform this icing each day for 3-4 days post-operatively, since that will be the period in which your body will generate the most amount of inflammation. After 4 days you may gradually decrease the frequency (but not length) of icing. Icing helps to reduce swelling and inflammation, which will in turn reduce pain.
3) If you are allowed to bear weight on your operated foot, put your foot flat on the ground and take small steps. Do not try to walk without either your surgical shoe or pneumatic walking boot. If you were given both, only wear the device your surgeon has instructed you to wear in the immediate post-operative period.
4) Generally, you should not be up more than 15-20 minutes per hour during the first week after surgery. This can allow for trips to the bathroom, kitchen, TV, and bed. Each week your ability to increase your activity will improve. Do not push yourself into overactivity, as this will likely result in increased pain and swelling, and can harm the surgical site. After 2-3 days, most complications in foot surgery occur because of patient overactivity. Although your body may feel healthy and rested, your foot needs time to heal.
5) If you were instructed not to bear weight, then you must use the assistive device ordered for you. Crutches, walkers, or wheelchairs must be used as directed. Failure to keep weight off of the operative foot may result in healing complications, a possible need for a return to the operating room, or surgical failure.
6) You may notice a small amount of moist bleeding on the dressing. This is normal. If you see this, elevate your foot and reapply icing. If the bleeding persists (moist, not dry), call the office (or your surgeon if after hours). Do not change your dressing unless otherwise instructed. All surgical site dressing changes will be performed in the office.
7) Take your medication as prescribed. All medications can be taken with food to decrease possible stomach irritation. If your medication causes a stomach ache, head ache, rash, or any other reaction discontinue its use and call the office.
8) Refrain from alcoholic beverages while taking pain medication.
9) If you smoke, understand that smoking will delay bone healing.
10) You need to get plenty of rest with your foot elevated. Drink plenty of fluids and eat your regular well balanced diet. The use of a multi-vitamin with minerals may help with healing if your diet is not rich in those nutrients.
11) If you have any questions or problems relating to your surgery, we ask that you please call the office during normal business hours, or reach the surgeon's voicemail pager during after hours by calling the office and following the prompts. Be sure to clearly leave your name, phone number, and message when calling the surgeon. If you need medications, leave your date of birth and pharmacy phone number as well so your prescription can be called in.
12) Call your doctor immediately if:
You have pain that isn't relieved by elevation, icing, and pain medication. (Give pain medications 30 minutes to work)
You injure your operative foot in a fall, by dropping a heavy object on it, or by just striking it against an object.
You develop a post-operative fever, chills, unrelieved nausea, or vomiting.