So you need foot surgery…
You have had enough! Enough pain. Enough looking at the deformity. Enough difficulty finding shoes – just, enough! That bunion or hammer toe has been “killing you” for some time now and you want to have it fixed once and for all. You may have seen the podiatrist and are considering foot surgery. It can be overwhelming to have surgery on your foot, because your feet are so important to everything you do every day.
By preparing for foot surgery, you will have a successful surgery and healing process with as little hassle as possible. Foot surgery is a common occurrence that may present some questions and challenges like any other surgery. There may be questions about what the podiatrist will do to your foot, how to take pain meds, how and when to walk, how to bathe … on and on. But, like any other surgery you must prepare for the procedure and follow instructions after the procedure to ensure that you have a safe and uneventful experience. The following are general guidelines to help you on the road to foot surgery and a speedy recovery.
You will see a podiatrist who will confirm your foot condition and explain your treatment options, with and without surgery. Before proceeding to surgery, you see your primary care doctor and complete any pre-operative tests or labs. Make arrangements to have someone drive you home after the procedure. Stop taking aspirin, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) and home remedies one week before surgery. Follow specific instructions about eating and drinking on the day of surgery, it’s usually no eating or drinking after midnight. It is best not to wear any jewelry, body piercings, makeup, nail polish, hairpins or contact lens. Leave valuables and money at home and wear loose-fitting, comfortable clothing. Bathe and wash your foot thoroughly both the night before and the day of surgery to reduce bacteria on the skin.
Based on the type of foot surgery you are going to have you must plan to take some time off work, anywhere from three to six weeks. Your podiatrist will tell you exactly how much time you need to take off.
Things you will need to do before surgery
Try and think about all of the things you are likely to need while you recover from foot surgery. Here are some suggestions:
• Stock up on supplies (food, water, etc.) so you do not need to go to the store to stand on your feet for a long time.
• Ask family and friends to help you during your recovery.
• Get books, movies and other items to entertain you and occupy your time during the recovery period.
• Prepare your house. Clear the clutter and move objects that will make it difficult to move from one room to another. If you have a home with stairs consider moving downstairs, or at least think of how to move up and down the stairs. Prepare your bathroom and shower area also with shower boots, grab bars, etc.
Make your bedroom the command center for your recovery. Fill the area with everything you need to be comfortable, so they can be easily reached. The supplies may include telephone, computer, TV, bed table for meals, extra pillows to elevate your feet, pillows for your back, writing materials, drinks, hand lotion, craft or hobby items, etc.
What to expect after foot surgery
You will have a bandage on your feet to cover the surgery and your feet may be swollen and painful at the surgery site. The swelling is due to the increased blood flow to the foot because of the surgery and can cause pain too. Most of the swelling occurs in the first three to four days after surgery and gradually decreases overtime. Elevating the leg and putting ice on the foot can decrease this. Some swelling is expected and can last for a while, even months before it is resolved completely. Decreasing your activity and resting the foot is important for healing.
How to care for your feet after foot surgery
Just like before surgery, the care after surgery is based on the surgery you had, and your health. Now a days, more and more surgeries are being done using very small (minimal) incisions which is faster, damages less tissue and speeds up the healing, decrease the pain, swelling and time off work.
• Take pain medication as needed: Most persons may experience some pain in the days following the surgery. The podiatrist will prescribe pain medication to help with this. Take the medications as ordered as well as elevating the foot to prevent swelling can also help.
• Elevate the foot: The foot must be elevated whenever you are sitting or lying. Keeping your foot elevated six to 18 inches above your heart can be very helpful at minimizing swelling and pain. The best way to elevate your foot is to lie on a bed or sofa with one or two pillows under the foot.
• Activities: Avoid activities that hang your feet down or standing on the foot for long periods of time. Avoid shopping, long-time cooking or other activities where you will be standing for any length of time in the first few weeks after foot surgery.
• Ice: To ice the foot, place ice cubes in a plastic bag or a package of frozen vegetables can be very helpful at controlling post-operative pain and swelling. Ice should be wrapped in a thin towel and applied to the foot for 10 to15 minutes at a time several times a day. The podiatrist will give your specific instructions.
• Work: Be prepared to spend some time, maybe the first week or two off work. Your primary “work” during this time will be to help your foot heal.
• Showering: Showering following foot surgery can sometime be a challenge because the bandage must stay dry. You can bathe with one foot out of the tub, use a shower boot or do a sponge bath.
• Each person and each surgery is unique. These general guidelines will help you prepare for surgery but the specific instructions from your podiatrist will help you have a successful surgery and safe and uneventful recovery.
• For more information or to see a podiatrist visit Bahamas Foot Centre Rosetta Street, telephone 325-2996 or Bahamas Surgical Associates Centre, Albury Lane, telephone 394-5820 or email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.apma.org.