dr. thomas mcdonald specializes in foot and ankle sports injuries

How to Prepare For Your Total Ankle Replacement Surgery

A total ankle replacement can be a lifeline for someone who has failed to find relief from their ankle arthritis through conservative means, but like any joint replacement operation, it’s going to take some work on your end to ensure you achieve the best results. Most people believe their work begins after their operation, but there’s plenty of things you can do to prepare yourself before you go under the knife. In today’s blog, we share some tips for preparing yourself, your home and your life before your total ankle replacement procedure.

Preparing Your Body Before Total Ankle Replacement

First, let’s take a closer look at some of the ways you can prepare your body for total ankle replacement. For starters, take a look at what you’re putting into your body, and make sure that it is helping to lay the framework for success. Eat a healthy diet full of vitamins and nutrients that will help to calm inflammation and promote tissue repair. Conversely, what you avoid putting in your body is just as important. Give up smoking, as it can damage blood vessels and limit healthy blood supply at the surgical site, and also limit or stop consuming alcohol in the days and weeks before your surgery, as this too can lead to blood vessel issues.

Next, consider helping your body prepare for life after surgery by diving into a prehab therapy routine if advised by your doctor. Doing physical therapy exercises prior to your operation can help to strengthen supportive tissues and maintain more range of motion. This area will undergo trauma during the course of the surgery, so the healthier and stronger it is, the better it will handle the operation. Don’t wait until after surgery to start doing some simple range of motion and strengthening exercises.

Preparing Your Home For Total Ankle Replacement

Total ankle replacement is designed to make you more mobile in the long-run, but in the immediate aftermath of surgery, your mobility will be limited. With this in mind, it’s important to prepare your home for your return ahead of time. Do some laundry, pick up any tripping hazards and prepare some healthy, easy-to-reheat meals. You’re not going to want to go up and down stairs with laundry baskets or spend a lot of time standing in the kitchen making meals, so take care of these tasks before your operation.

Speaking of going up and down stairs, since it won’t be all that easy after your operation, consider setting up a home base on a main level or area of easy access. If your bedroom is on the main floor, you’re probably already set, but if that’s not the case, it may be easier to put a mattress in the living room for a little while so that you don’t have to navigate stairs. You’ll want to be able to sleep, eat and go to the bathroom without dealing with stairs for a while.

Preparing Your Life For Total Ankle Replacement

Finally, you’ll want to consider other aspects of your life that will be affected by your total ankle replacement surgery. Odds are you’ll need some time off of work, so discuss this with management or consider seeing if you can work remotely so that you don’t have to bother with a commute.

Your commuting schedule will also need to be revamped while you’re recovering from total ankle replacement. If the surgery was on your right ankle, you’ll need around 6-8 weeks of recovery before you’ll be cleared to drive, but your specific timeline will be given by your surgeon. If the operation was on your left foot, you’ll be able to drive sooner, but you’ll need to ensure that you are safe to drive if you are taking certain medications for pain. Your doctor will explain when you can return to drive if you’re taking medications. Regardless of what ankle you have surgically addressed, you’ll need to have someone drive you home from the surgery center, so plan ahead and arraign a ride.

If you can keep your body, home and other affected situations in mind and plan ahead before your operation, we’re confident that you’ll be setting yourself up for success after total ankle replacement surgery. For more information, or for help with your foot or ankle pain, reach out to Dr. McDonald and this team today.

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