5 Tips to Prepare for Ankle Replacement Surgery

The number of ankle replacement surgeries has risen sharply over the past decade. Better technologies mean better outcomes. Is ankle pain keeping you from having the active lifestyle you want? Here’s what you need to know as you prepare for surgery.

1. Plan for recovery needs

Like any major surgery, it takes some time to recover. Preparing for this time improves the speed and success of that healing process.

For around six weeks, you'll wear a splint or boot. You'll use crutches and perhaps a wheelchair as well. This protects your foot while allowing you to get around on a limited basis, especially for the first two weeks. During this time those incisions are healing and your body is becoming accustomed to your new ankle.

After you've completed those six weeks, Dr. DeHeer evaluates the healing process. He may recommend physical therapy, or he may determine that your ankle needs a little more time to heal. He continues to evaluate and work with you to achieve the best outcome.

What do you need to do to prepare for this? Consider how limited mobility may impact your work duties, home life, chores and other activities. Prepare accordingly.

2. Prepare your home

Your home may not seem like an obstacle course now, but even the most well-kept home may become so, especially during the first two weeks when movement is limited.

Make sure you have a nice clear resting space where you'll be close to a bathroom and the kitchen. Even if you have some help, you'll often find yourself just too tempted to get up for food or water. Make it as easy as possible when you simply can't wait for assistance.

If you plan to sit and sleep on a sofa, choose a very comfortable one that won't start causing pressure point pain after you sit there a while. Make sure you've got a good place to elevate your foot to prevent swelling.

3. Stock up on entertainment

Do you have any novels you've just never been able to find the time to read? Maybe you'd like to take an online class that you can add to your resume during this time. 

For others, simply having a remote in hand or a laptop at their side will keep them entertained all day long.

Plan for this time. Make the most of it, but don't work too hard, even on a laptop. You need rest to heal. 

4. Make driving arrangements

Speak with your friends and loved ones before you go in for an ankle replacement surgery. Line up more than one driver to help you get to and from appointments just in case one can't do it. Driving would not only be difficult — it's dangerous to your safety and the proper healing of your ankle.

Remember, the day of the surgery isn't the only day you'll need a driver. Dr. DeHeer discusses your follow-up schedule so that you can plan for rides.

5. Commit to recovery

You're so ready to walk around pain-free. You envision with delight those days at the park with your grandchild or enjoying a hike with a loved one.

Before you get there, commit to a fast and safe recovery. This isn't a process you can rush.

Many factors go into the time it takes your body to heal, such as age and overall health. There may be days when you want to "test the waters." Your ankle feels fine, and you're tempted to remove your boot early.

Don't do it. Not following Dr. DeHeer's instructions can cause permanent damage. It's hard for most of us to stay still, but it will be worth it.

One small but significant study showed a 35 percent increase in sports activity after ankle replacement. Most patients find it easier to stay active after the procedure.

If you're preparing for an ankle replacement, taking these steps will help you have the fastest and best recovery. If you're waiting because you're just not sure if ankle replacement is a good option for you, don't wait. Find out for yourself.

Book online today.

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