Frequently Asked Questions

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When it comes to any surgery lots of questions need to be asked and Ankle Surgery is no different. Below you will find a compilation of frequently asked questions that we hope will give you answers to some of the many questions you have about before, during and after the Surgery.

What should I expect after foot surgery or ankle surgery?

Most commonly, after foot and ankle surgery, your extremity will be immobilized in either a cast or a splint. This device will be left on until your first postoperative appointment in 10-14 days.
The purpose of the cast is to protect your wounds and hold your foot and ankle in correct position after surgery.

How much pain will I have after foot or ankle surgery?

Pain is a common occurrence after any type of surgery. Each person tolerates pain differently.
Following your surgery you will be sent home with adequate pain medications.
It is very important to take your pain medications on a scheduled basis to avoid unnecessary pain from waiting too long.
Please monitor your pain level after surgery, as well as any adverse reaction to the medications. Please call your surgeon or general practitioner if you are having any difficulty.

How active can I be after foot or ankle surgery?

Once you have discharged from the hospital, you will not be able to put any weight on your foot and ankle. Remember, you will be in a postoperative cast that is not made for walking.
At your follow-up visit, you will have the cast or splint changed and your weight-bearing activity increased based on your healing. Activities and increasing your weight-bearing is determined on an individual basis.
Please remember: Do NOT bear weight until you are told to do so; this could injure your foot or ankle or cause increased pain.

Will I lose all motion in my foot?

The ankle joint is responsible for the majority of up-and-down motion. Ankle fusion decreases this movement, but the movement of the subtalar joint and the other joints of the foot remains. This allows the heel to move from side to side and the middle of the foot to move up and down. A fused ankle does not typically result in a fully rigid foot. Ankle arthrodesis does change how a person walks but with proper shoes most patients do not limp.

Are there activities I should avoid with an ankle arthrodesis?

Once the ankle has fused, it is quite durable. Many patients work physically demanding jobs, walk long distances, hike, cycle and ski on fused ankles. The fused ankle will never function exactly like a normal ankle, however. Patients are encouraged to discuss specific hopes for return to activity with their physicians. Running and similar activities are not recommended.

Do I need to have the plates or screws removed?

No. Occasionally the plates and screws may be removed if they are close to the skin and cause irritation. They may also need to be removed if an infection develops. Otherwise hardware is not typically removed. There is usually not enough hardware in place to set off metal detectors.

Ankle Surgery: How Long is the Recovery?

The severity of the injury and the health of the individual play a significant role in healing time. General healing times are 3 – 6 months for complete fusion of the joint. The swelling may take over a year to settle down. The range of motion may also take over a year to improve.

When can I start driving again?

Your surgeon CANNOT determine when you are safe to drive. However, you probably won’t be able to drive for about 10 weeks after surgery. After 10 weeks you should demonstrate to a friend or family member than you can safely drive. If you have any questions about your ability to drive please give the RTA and/or your Insurance company a call.

Ankle swelling after cast removed?

So you have had your cast removed and you have been told you can start to walk around in your walking cast boot but you are finding your ankle is swelling, is this normal? The short answer to this is yes. The bodies circulatory system is called the Venous System and 3 of its major pumps are located in the leg, these are the foot pump, calf pump and thigh pump, for these pumps to work they need movement which since your foot has been in a cast that hasn’t been possible, this is another reason why you have been told to keep your foot elevated. The calf pump needs ankle movement to work correctly and since you now have less movement in your ankle this will take awhile to adjust, so until that time your foot can’t pump as efficiently and fluid builds up swelling the ankle. You should find that if your rest your ankle that the swelling should subside, you may also see a purple colouring of the foot this to can be normal, but if you are in pain or the swelling doesn’t subside then please talk to your surgeon as soon as possible.

Last edited by Brendon on

Related Pages
Ankle Surgery
Description of whats involved in the different types of Ankle Surgery.
Dads Story
A patients perspective of there ankle fusion surgery.
Walking Cast Boots
Things to consider when choosing a boot.
Non-Weight Bearing
Find out hot to comply with your surgeons instruction on no weight bearing after surgery.
A useful guide on helping you prepare for your ankle surgery.