There are common elements to getting better after foot surgery that apply to all operations. You may have heard the acronym RICE used to treat an acute sports injury. Well foot surgery is little different to an injury and will need the same attention to detail. Let us look at those letters again:
R stands for REST. It is quite a simple equation when getting better; the body needs rest to allow healing to occur. Activity however is also necessary to stimulate the healing process. So, how much of each? The only rule here is to ‘listen to’ your foot – when it begins to feel tired that is the time to stop and rest, if you are going to the stage where you are in pain then you are doing too much and need to ease off.
I stands for ICE. Using an ice pack at the front of the ankle, just above the dressings, will help to ease pain and reduce excessive inflammation. It is useful to ice the foot every hour or two for five minutes at a time.
C stands for COMPRESSION. The dressing is applied to be snug on the foot, but will loosen over time. You can ‘unwrap’ the outer layer a little after a few days and reapply the bandage if things feel too loose.
E stands for ELEVATION. Should I elevate the foot when resting? Definitely YES; as this will allow fluid to enter the foot, bringing the building blocks of healing with it. It will also allow fluid to drain from the foot taking away damaged cells and other debris. The ideal height is about hip level when sitting or slightly higher.
After surgery the foot is supported by heavy dressings of gauze, wool and crepe, which will be left in place until your next outpatient appointment. DO NOT get the dressing wet, or remove it totally, as this will increase chances of post-operative complication. If you are unfortunate to get the bandages wet, or they simply get too loose, then visit your practice nurse to have them changed or contact us at Total Foot Health.