One of the biggest concerns our patients share with us about foot and ankle surgery comes down to recovery expectations. How long is the recovery process? After foot surgery, how long does it take to walk? Will I ever be active again? These are simply some of the questions we field—and they are good ones to ask! Although foot and ankle surgery will be an investment of your time in terms of recovery, the benefits are well worth it for those who have been dealing with long-term symptoms and side effects.
At EmergeOrtho—Triangle Region, we do everything we can to help educate you on what to expect before, during, and after foot and ankle surgery.
Which Foot And Ankle Conditions Require Surgery?
Before we launch into our frequently asked questions (FAQs) about foot and ankle surgery, we find it helpful to answer one of the main initial questions people have: which foot and ankle conditions require surgery?
While the answer varies based on the individual and the severity of the condition/injury, there are symptoms that help foot and ankle surgeons determine if surgery should be the next step. Surgery is often recommended when a patient:
- Has not responded well to conservative treatment methods
- Is experiencing persistent swelling, tenderness, and or warmth (especially in the areas of or near the joints)
- Has signs of chronic ankle instability
- Is experiencing chronic pain and/or discomfort
- Is finding mobility difficult and/or painful, especially when walking on uneven ground
- Has bunions, corns, blisters, and other growths/abnormalities that do not improve with non-surgical treatments
These symptoms can indicate a variety of foot and ankle problems, but some of the more common types of conditions that are aided with surgical intervention include:
- Chronic ankle instability
- Chronic ankle sprains
- Chronic ankle pain
- Foot and ankle arthritis
- Claw toe
- Toe deformities
Foot and Ankle Surgery Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Before diving into our FAQs, one thing we want to make clear: there is life after foot and ankle surgery! In fact, our EmergeOrtho Foot and Ankle surgeons do all we can to ensure you Emerge Stronger. Healthier. Better, after surgery. Our board-certified surgeons utilize advanced and minimally-invasive procedures to perform ankle replacements, reconstruction, and other types of foot and ankle surgeries.
How Long is Foot and Ankle Surgery Recovery?
Because there are several different types of foot and ankle procedures, recovery time varies. But, most people can expect full recovery to take between three to six months. Some surgeries can take even up to a full year to maximally recover strength and endurance after surgery.
Why Does Foot and Ankle Surgery Recovery Last so Long?
It is important to remember how much we depend on our foot and ankle—for everything! The average person takes 10,000 steps per day—an important reminder of the complexity of the bones, joints, ligaments, and muscles in our feet and ankles, and how much stress they endure. Healing time is not something to be rushed.
Recovery typically happens in stages. At first, you will likely be fitted with an immobilization splint, cast, or boot. Then, your foot and ankle doctor or physical therapist will provide you with rehabilitative exercises and stretches.
The success of your recovery ultimately depends on you. The more closely you follow the post-surgical guidelines of your surgeon, the better your chances of healing quickly.
What Type of Side Effects Can Happen After Foot and Ankle Surgery?
While a certain amount of pain, discomfort, and ankle and foot swelling after surgery are normal, typically, these side effects are short-lived. In fact, research shows that post-surgery foot and ankle pain and swelling are typically well managed with over-the-counter pain relievers/anti-inflammatory medication and the RICE method (rest, ice, compression, and elevation).
While your risk of serious complications is low, contact your orthopedic surgeon immediately if you notice signs of infection or lasting swelling and stiffness in your foot or ankle.
When Can Activity be Resumed?
Again, since recovery varies depending on the type of procedure you have, it may take a few weeks before you can resume light activity. While your surgeon will encourage physical therapy exercises to strengthen your foot and ankle region, you will likely be restricted from weight-bearing activities for some time.
More Tips to Prepare You For Foot and Ankle Surgery
Hopefully, you have found this foot and ankle surgery FAQ guide helpful. We encourage you, if you have not done so already, to download our complimentary new eBook: Foot and Ankle Surgery Prep, Recovery, and Return to Life! This comprehensive guide provides information on what to expect on the day of your surgery (and how to prepare), foot and ankle surgery cost, ways to maximize your recovery, and even bonus post-surgery exercises and stretches.
To learn more, schedule an appointment with one of our highly qualified EmergeOrtho–Triangle Region doctors. Or, call us any time at (919) 220-5255.