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How To Safely Manage Painkillers After Ankle Surgery

If you suffer an unstable ankle fracture or are dealing with severe ankle arthritis, a surgical procedure may be in your future. In many of these instances, your doctor will provide you with opioids or painkillers to help assist with the discomfort in the immediate aftermath of your operation. These opioids can be essential in your recovery, but they also present some potential risks. In today’s blog, we share some tips for safely managing your opioids following ankle surgery.

Safely Taking Opioids After Foot Surgery

Opioids can lead to issues like addiction and overdose if taken incorrectly, so it’s imperative that you are mindful about how you take your medication. Here are our recommendations for safely managing your medications after foot or ankle surgery.

  1. Listen To Your Doctor/Pharmacist – Our single best piece of advice is to follow the recommendations of your care team. They’ll know best when it comes to when to take your medication and how much is appropriate for your situation, so lean on their advice. If you have questions or concerns about any part of the medication process, talk to your medical team, don’t just try to adjust as you see fit.
  2. See How The Meds Affect You – Really take note of how the medications affect you in the first few days. While you may quickly learn that you should not drive after you’ve taken medication, you’ll also want to understand how opioids affect your appetite or your ability to fall asleep. Start to learn when is the best time to take your medications to manage pain and deal with any side effects.
  3. Don’t Try To Block Out All Pain – Opioids can help to drown out pain signals, but they aren’t going to make your recovery completely pain free all of the time. Start to get used to some mild to moderate discomfort. We don’t want you to be in severe pain, but come in with the expectation that you’ll have some discomfort that will be present even if you’re on an opioid regimen. Having mismatched expectations can make it harder to safely navigate your medication schedule.
  4. Safe Storage – Don’t just store your prescription painkillers on your bedside table where they can be accessed by anyone in the house. These are potentially dangerous and addictive medications, and you shouldn’t leave them out where they are easily accessible for kids or teens. Keep your medications out of sight and out of reach of others.
  5. Know That They Are Short-Term – Opioids are not designed to be a long-term solution to your discomfort. They are designed to help you get past the worst discomfort and make it easier to partake in some activities that will help to fuel your recovery, like physical therapy and strength training. Work to wean yourself off as directed as you progress through your recovery.
  6. Talk With Your Doctor About Problems – If you’re having difficult controlling pain after your operation, bring this up to your surgeon. Don’t just take extra medication. Talk to your care team about any issues you’re facing controlling pain.
  7. Safe Disposal – Finally, if you find that you no longer need the remainder of your prescription, make sure you safely dispose of your medication. Don’t hold onto the pills in case you suffer a setback or another injury in the future. Take them to a medication drop off center or grind them up with coffee grounds and throw them away.

If you can do all these tips, and you trust your operation to a skilled surgeon like Dr. McDonald, we’re confident that you will be able to safely control your discomfort with opioids following your operation. For more information, give Dr. McDonald and his team a call today at (860) 244-8889.

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