foot anatomy dr. thomas mcdonald hartford

5 Tips for Boosting Your Recovery After Total Ankle Replacement

A total ankle replacement procedure is designed to treat moderate to severe cases of ankle joint arthritis. Arthritis is a condition brought on by natural degeneration, but if this degeneration becomes severe, it can lead to significant pain, ankle joint deformity and an increased likelihood of a fracture or dislocation. Orthopedic surgeons work to decrease pain and retain mobility in the joint through a total ankle replacement procedure.

As you might expect, a total ankle replacement operation is quite the undertaking on a person’s health. Full recovery will take months, but you can help to speed up this process if you make some smart decisions and strive to take control of your rehabilitation. In today’s blog, we share some tips for speeding up your recovery following total ankle replacement.

5 Tips To Improve Healing After Total Ankle Replacement

Used in conjunction with one another, these tips can help you take days or even weeks off your recovery. They can also help to prevent setbacks that can delay the recovery process. Here are some tips to keep in mind.

  1. Elevate After Surgery – You’re not going to be weight bearing for a while after the procedure, and you’ll need to let healing run its course in the short term. Healing occurs faster when fluid buildup and swelling isn’t hindering healthy blood flow. Elevate your ankle above your heart at regular intervals for the first 1-2 weeks or as recommended by your treating surgeon to help curb swelling.
  2. Do Your Exercises – You will be given flexibility and strength training exercises to perform even before you’re allowed to be weight bearing in the ankle. Before and after you’ve been cleared for weight bearing, it’s important that you regularly perform these flexibility and strengthening exercises. This will help drive home long-term mobility and physical function in the new ankle joint.
  3. Know The Warning Signs – Make sure you’re aware of the signs of an infection or a problem in your surgically addressed ankle. If you notice any of these symptoms, reach out to your surgeon sooner rather than later. Some indications of a problem with your surgery include:
    • Fever
    • Discolored discharge at the surgical site
    • Increasing tenderness
    • Increasing pain
    • Severe swelling
    • A foul smell at the surgical site
  4. Improve Your Diet – Your diet is important both before and after surgery. Developing a healthy diet prior to surgery can help you reach an ideal weight and in turn take more stress off your feet. After surgery, your diet will help ensure your body has the vitamins and nutrients it needs to fuel the recovery process. It’s also important to stock your house with healthy options before surgery, because mobility will be difficult in the immediate aftermath of your operation.
  5. Avoid An Overreliance On Pain Meds – Finally, while pain medications and anti-inflammatory agents can help assist in the recovery process, they are passive treatments that won’t drive home recovery. Don’t just rely on pills and time to help your ankle heal, because that can lead to an elongated recovery process. Active strengthening interventions are what will draw healthy blood to the surgical site and improve physical function. Medications can make active interventions less uncomfortable, but they should be a compliment to your rehabilitation, not the main focus. Over relying on pain meds can also have significant side effects like the possibility of addiction or overdose, so talk to your surgeon about a healthy medication regimen following total ankle replacement.
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