Making Your Feet Work For You

Make Your Recovery From Ankle Surgery Easy By Preparing Before Your Operation

Recovering from foot or ankle surgery is a lengthy, slow process. According to the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital, it can take a year to fully recover. At three months after surgery, the foot or ankle feels "fair," and it's "good" at six months. If you're going to have ankle surgery, preparing beforehand can make this process go easier -- especially if your ankle doctor requires you to stay off of your feet for a portion of the recovery period. Here are five things you can do before your ankle surgery to make life easier after your operation.

Gather Pillows to Elevate Your Foot

Your ankle doctor may ask you to keep your foot elevated after surgery. It's easier to set up pillows for this purpose before surgery than after. You might not know exactly how you want the pillows situated, but you can at least leave a few pillows within reach of your couch and a couple others near your bed. This way, you'll be able to set them up after surgery without leaving the comfort of your sofa or bed.

Set Up 2 Coolers with Food, Drinks and Ice Packs

Next to each pile of pillows, set up a cooler that has snacks and drinks. It's important to eat well and stay hydrated after surgery. With a cooler right next to you, you won't have to get up for food or water. You can also keep a couple of ice packs in these coolers for easy grabbing, and they'll double by keeping your cooler chilled.

Refill All of Your Prescriptions

Before surgery, you should carefully review any prescriptions that you're currently taking with your ankle doctor. Unless your doctor doesn't want you taking a medication after surgery, you should refill all of your prescriptions before heading to the hospital. After surgery, driving to a pharmacy may be difficult, or even prohibited, depending on which ankle was operated on and which one you use to drive.

If you just refilled a prescription, your insurance might not cover another refill immediately. Should your insurer decline a refill, call them and explain why you need the refill sooner than normal. Many times, insurers will cover the insured amount of an additional prescription if your ankle doctor or pharmacist explains that you'll be unable to have it refilled after the surgery.

Learn to Use Crutches or a Walker

If your ankle doctor doesn't want you putting weight on the operated-on foot, you'll need to know how to use crutches or a walker. Your physician's practice should suggest a place where you can purchase or rent this equipment, and they might be able to help you determine whether your insurance covers all or a portion of the cost. At one of your pre-op appointments, they'll also likely show you how to use the device you'll have.

Buy a Waterproof Cast Cover

As the Ohio State University Medical Center mentions, getting a cast wet increases the chance of infection, which would prolong your recovery. Using a cover properly is the best way to minimize the risk of infection. You won't be able to take a shower with a cast cover, as it will let water drip down your leg and into the area that was operated on. A cover will let you keep your cast dry during baths, though.

The road to becoming well will be a long, multi-month journey after surgery. Prepare for this phase before you go under the knife, though, will make it go as smoothly as possible. Take time to follow these steps, and ask your ankle doctor if they have any other suggestions. You'll be glad you did after your surgery, because you'll be able to focus on relaxing and recovering, not getting ready to recover.