If you and your doctor decide that surgery is the best treatment for your condition, you may have a multitude of questions and concerns. We encourage our patients to educate themselves on what to expect, as this can make it easier to prepare.
If you have any questions, please be sure to ask Dr. Harley or a team member of Alpharetta Foot and Ankle Specialists.
Please browse the sidebar for resources, tips and questions you can ask your doctor on how you can prepare for before and after your surgery.
You had surgery to get a new ankle while you were in the hospital.
Below are some questions you may want to ask your doctor or nurse to help you take care of your new joint.
How long will I need to use crutches or a walker after I go home?
Will I have pain medicines when I go home? How should I take them?
Will I need to take blood thinners when I go home? How long would it be?
How can I get my home ready before I even go to the hospital?
What are the signs that something is wrong with my new ankle? How can I prevent problems with my new ankle?
How do I take care of my surgical wound?
You have spent weeks going to appointments, preparing your home, and getting healthy before surgery. Now it is time for surgery. You may feel relieved or nervous to be at this point.
However, taking care of a few last-minute details can help make your surgery more successful. Depending on the type of surgery you are having, you may be asked to follow further advice.
Two weeks before surgery you may have been told to stop taking drugs that make it harder for your blood to clot. These include aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), naproxen (Naprosyn, Aleve), and other drugs.
You should take only the medicines your doctor told you to take before surgery. This includes prescription medicines. If you are confused about which medicines to take the night before or the day of surgery, call your doctor.
Do not take any supplements, herbs, vitamins, or minerals before surgery unless your doctor said it was okay.
Bring a list of all your medicines to the hospital. Include the ones that you were told to stop taking before surgery. Make sure you write down the dosage and how often you take them.
You may take a shower or bath both the night before and the morning of surgery.
Your doctor or nurse may give you a special medicated soap to use. Look for instructions for how to use this soap. If no one gave you special soap, use Dial or another antibacterial soap you can buy at the store.
It is important that you do not shave before you have surgery. The doctors or nurses will do that at the hospital.
Scrub your nails with a brush. Remove nail polish and makeup before you go to the hospital.
Most of the time, you will be asked not to eat or drink after midnight. This usually means avoiding both solid foods and liquids.
You may brush your teeth and rinse your mouth in the morning. If you were told to take any medicine on the morning of surgery, you may take them with a sip of water.
Rarely, you may have symptoms that your surgeon needs to know beforehand.
You should bring your crutches, cane, or walker to the hospital.
Personal care items:
Other items may include:
Ankle arthroplasty - total - discharge; Total ankle arthroplasty - discharge; Endoprosthetic ankle replacement - discharge
You had an ankle replacement. This surgery replaced the bones that made up your ankle joint with artificial joint parts (prosthetic components). Your surgeon removed and reshaped damaged bones, and replaced it with a new artificial ankle joint.
You received pain medication and were shown how to treat swelling around your new artificial ankle joint.
Your ankle area may feel warm and tender for 4 to 6 weeks.
You will need help with everyday activities, such as driving, shopping, bathing, meal preparation, and household chores, for up to 6 weeks. You will need to keep weight off of the foot for 10 - 12 weeks. Recovery can take 3 - 6 months. It may take up to 6 months before you return to normal activity levels.
Your doctor will ask you to rest when you first go home. Keep your leg propped up on one or two pillows. Place the pillows below your foot or calf muscle. This helps reduce swelling.
It is very important to elevate your leg. Swelling can lead to poor wound healing and complications to your surgery.
You will be asked to keep all weight off of your foot for 10 to 12 weeks. You will need to use a walker or crutches.
You will be sent to physical therapy. You will start with range of motion exercises for your ankle. You will learn exercises to strengthen the muscles around your ankle next. Your therapist will slowly increase the amount and type of activities as you build strength.
Do not start heavier exercises, such as jogging, swimming, aerobics, or bicycling, until your doctor or therapist tells you it is okay. Ask your doctor when it will be safe for you to return to work or drive.
Your sutures (stitches) will be removed about 1 - 2 weeks after surgery. You should keep your incision clean and dry for 2 weeks. Keep your bandage on your wound clean and dry. You may change the dressing every day if you like.
Do NOT shower until after your follow-up appointment with your doctor. Your doctor will tell you when you can begin taking showers. When you do start showering again, let the water run over the incision. Do NOT scrub.
Do NOT soak the wound in the bath or a hot tub.
See also: Surgical wound care
Your doctor will give you a prescription for pain medicine. Get it filled when you go home so you have it available. Take your pain medicine before letting your pain get worse. Otherwise the pain will become worse than it should.
Taking ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) or another anti-inflammatory medicine may also help. Talk to your doctor about what other medicines you can take with your pain medication.
Call your doctor or nurse if you notice:
Ishikawa SN. Total ankle arthroplasty. In: Canale ST, Beatty JH, eds. Campbell's Operative Orthopaedics. 11th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier; 2007:chap 5.
Staying safe in the bathroom is important for people with joint pain, muscle weakness, or physical disability. If you have these problems, you will need to make some changes in your bathroom.
You can make several changes to protect yourself when you take a bath or shower:
Raising the toilet seat height can help keep your bathroom safe. You can do this by adding a seat cover or elevated toilet seat. You can also use a commode chair instead of a toilet.
Consider a special seat called a portable bidet. It helps you clean your bottom without using your hands. It sprays warm water to clean, then warm air to dry.
You may need to have safety bars in your bathroom. Grab bars should be secured vertically or horizontally to the wall, not diagonally.
Do not use towel racks as grab bars, they cannot support your weight.
You will need two grab bars. One helps you get in and out of the tub. The other helps you stand from a sitting position.
If you are not sure what changes you need to make in your bathroom, ask your doctor for a referral to a occupational therapist. The occupational therapist can visit your bathroom and make safety recommendations.
An incision is a "cut" through the skin that is made during surgery. It also called a "surgical wound." Some incisions are small, and others are very long. The size of the incision will depend on the kind of surgery you had.
Do not wear tight clothing that rubs against the incision while it is healing.
Sometimes, a surgical wound will break open (wound dehiscence). This may happen along the entire cut or just part of it. Your doctor may decide not to close it again with sutures, or stitches.
If your doctor does not close your wound again with sutures, you will need to learn how to care for it at home, since it may take time to heal. The wound will heal from the bottom to the top. The dressings help to soak up any drainage and to keep the skin from closing before the wound underneath fills in.
It is important to clean your hands before you change your dressings. You may use an alcohol-based cleaner like Purell, or you may wash your hands using these steps:
Your doctor will tell you how often to change your dressing. Be prepared before starting the dressing change:
Remove the old dressing:
You may use a gauze pad or soft cloth to clean the skin around your wound:
Your doctor may also ask you to irrigate, or wash out, your wound:
Do not put any lotion, cream, or herbal remedies on or around your wound without asking your doctor first.
Place the clean dressing on the wound as your health care provider taught you to. You may be using a wet-to-dry dressing.
Clean your hands when you are finished.
Throw away all the old dressings and other used supplies in a waterproof plastic bag. Close it tightly, then double it before putting it in the trash.
Wash any soiled laundry from the dressing change separately from other laundry. Ask your doctor if you need to add bleach to the wash water.
Use a dressing only once. Never reuse it.
Call your doctor if:
Many people with medical problems are at risk for falling or tripping. This can leave you with broken bones or more serious injuries. You can do many things to make your home safer for you.
Am I taking any medicines that will make me sleepy, dizzy, or lightheaded?
Are there exercises I can do to make me stronger to help prevent falls?
Where in my home do I need to make sure there is enough light?
How can I make my bathroom safer? Do I need a shower chair? Do I need a raised toilet seat? Do I need help when I take a shower or bath?
Do I need bars on the walls in the shower, by the toilet, or in the hallways?
Is my bed low enough? Do I need a hospital bed? Do I need a bed on the first floor so I do not need to climb stairs?
How can I make the stairs at my house safer?
Is it okay to have pets in the home?
What are other things that I may trip over?
What can I do about any uneven floors?
Do I need help with cleaning, cooking, laundry, or other household chores?
Should I use a cane or a walker?
What should I do if I fall? How can I keep my phone near me?
Copyright© 2021 Northside Hospital Inc.
A Northside Hospital Physician Practice.
All Rights Reserved.
Copyright© 2021 Northside Hospital Inc. A Northside Hospital Physician Practice. All Rights Reserved.
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