How to Prepare for (and Get the Most of) Surgery Recovery

Having foot or ankle surgery can often feel like an event that you need to plan around. So too, however, can be your time recovering from that surgery.

It is easy to get so caught up in the details of a surgical procedure itself that you don’t fully prepare for the period of rest and healing you likely need afterward. But your post-surgical recovery time is something you should never neglect planning for. The speed of your recovery and even the potential for complications can hinge on how well you handle this time.

We made a fun blog recently with tips on beating boredom during post-surgical recovery, and it’s still worth a read when you have the time. This blog will focus on the more serious matter of how best to prepare yourself for a comfortable, efficient, and less challenging time healing.

Let’s start with some things to consider before you have your surgery.

Have People You Can Turn to, When Needed

It’s important to have someone able to support and check in on you, especially during the first few days and weeks after a surgery. 

In addition to arranging to have someone able to drive you home after the surgical procedure itself, it’s ideal to have friends or family who can shop for you, take care of household chores, and accomplish other tasks you can’t or should not be doing on your own.

Availability and expectations should be set before the surgery to help avoid any long periods where you’re on your own, if possible.

Stock Up on Meals and Supplies

The less work you (or someone else) has to do during your recovery, the better. 

Make sure you are stocked well enough on food and household products for at least a couple weeks. This includes checking on toilet paper, garbage bags, and all those other little items we sometimes don’t realize we need more of until they’re nearly depleted.

Preparing some frozen meals beforehand can also save you a great deal of effort and stress. Just make sure they’re things that last and that you’re willing to eat several servings of over time!

patient lying in hospital bed with broken leg bone wrapped in ca

Clean Up and Take Care of Chores

Take some time to tidy up around the house before your surgery, especially in areas where you will expect to be spending a lot of time and moving between. The less clutter you have blocking your pathways, the easier it will be to get around when you need to, and the less likely you may trip or fall over something.

Anything you can handle beforehand to get ahead of household tasks is also recommendable. Try to keep the need for taking care of things as far into the future as you can.

Prepare A Safer and More Comfortable Recovery Place

You will need somewhere to rest and sleep. If your bedroom is located up a flight of stairs and everything else you need is downstairs, that can be a recipe for trouble.

We highly recommend relocating where you sleep to the main floor, if at all possible. The fewer unnecessary trips you need to make between floors, the better.

Also consider whether you may benefit from grab bars, non-skid mats, and other aids in areas where you may need them, such as the bathroom or kitchen. Also move any materials you are bound to need – such as certain cookware, towels, clothing, etc. – to areas where you can easily reach them, if they are not already there.

Any preparations you can make before you have your surgery are well worth investing the time and effort. But what about when you find yourself on the other side of your procedure?

Follow All Post-Surgical Instructions as Best as Possible

We cannot stress enough how important it is to follow your post-surgical care instructions. Neglecting to do so can extend how long it takes to fully recover, and even lead to extra pain and complications to deal with.

“Cheating” on your post-recovery by not following guidelines or feeling like you can hop back into things sooner than recommended is only heaping more risk on yourself. We’re not trying to be mean with the rules; we want you to recover as quickly and as thoroughly as possible!

The overall recommendations for each patient’s post-operative recovery will be different, largely depending on the procedure they’ve had and other factors surrounding their health. When it comes to general considerations, though, here are several that are more important than they might initially appear:

  • Rest. This means keeping yourself from bearing weight on the surgical area as much as possible. You must provide your body the opportunity it needs to effectively heal, and adding stress fights against this.
  • Elevation. If we recommend keeping your surgical site above the level of your heart whenever sitting or lying down, it is likely to help reduce inflammation and swelling in that area.
  • Support Devices. Crutches, braces, casts, walking boots, and other devices can help keep weight off your surgical site as you move, or keep the area immobilized for more effective healing.
  • Physical Therapy. During the course of recovery, we may recommend stretches and specific exercises to help recondition and rehabilitate your foot or ankle. It is very important that we ease you back into full activity, as trying to go all out after a period of inactivity can easily lead to injury.

These are just a few potential considerations as part of a plan. We will always fully discuss all the guidelines and suggestions for your recovery before and after any procedure. We might also discuss advanced treatment options such as laser therapy that can aid in pain relief and accelerating healing.

If foot or ankle surgery is or may be in your future, we will always be happy to provide expert advice and answer any questions you may have. Schedule an appointment by calling our Johnstown or Ebensburg offices, or by filling out our online contact form.