April 20, 2022
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A Quick Guide to Speeding Up Recovery after foot and ankle surgery

Whether you’re getting ready for a more in-depth foot and ankle surgery or a minimally invasive foot and ankle surgery, you’re going to have to commit to your rehabilitation once you’re discharged from the surgical center if you want to make the best recovery. But how can you go about ensuring that you’re doing everything to maximize your recovery after foot surgery? In today’s Doc Martin’s blog, we share some tips for helping you achieve the best results after a foot or ankle operation.

Recovering After Foot and Ankle Surgery

It’s worth noting that the best recovery plan will be decided by you and your doctor based on your specific surgery, but in general, these tips can also be helpful following a foot or ankle surgery.

1. Prep The House Before Surgery

 Being prepared for life after surgery involves taking some action before you head into the operating room. Get your house ready for your return by cleaning, picking up potential tripping hazards, and cooking some healthy, easy-to-reheat meals.

2. Early Controlled Activity

Ask your doctor when you can bear weight or walk on the recovering structure. When your foot is healthy enough, walking will help to facilitate blood flow to the area and strengthen structures that are recovering from the trauma of surgery. Controlled exercise and movement are preferred to prolonged rest in many cases, so ask your doctor about activity guidelines.

3. Wound Care

Even if the doctor only made a few minimally invasive openings during your operation, you still need to manage the wounds with care. Change your dressing regularly as advised by your doctor, and the same goes for cleaning and washing the incision site. Look for the warning signs of an infection, which include redness, discharge, and a warm sensation.

4. Follow Through With PT

Some people think that if their foot is “good enough” they don’t need to continue with physical therapy. You should be going to every single PT session and doing your exercises regularly. It’s not about getting back to a point that’s good enough, it’s about achieving maximum recovery, and you’ll never reach this point if you give up on your exercises.

5. Listen To Your Doctor

We alluded to this above, but it deserves its point. The best thing you can do for your recovering foot or ankle is to heed your doctor’s instructions. Don’t rush back to work or lay in bed for a week if it’s against your doctor’s orders. They know the best strategies for helping your foot recover, so make sure you are listening.

6. Care For Your Mental Health

While most of the focus will be on your physical health, it is also very important that you care for your mental health as you recover. It can be frustrating to be immobile or unable to work, and that can have an impact on our psyche. Challenge and stimulate your mind during your recovery, and consult with your doctor if you’re having mood swings, depressive thoughts, or anxiety because these symptoms need to be treated just like physical symptoms.

Not all foot surgeries are the same. At Doc Martin’s we know that some surgeries might have a faster recovery and some may have a longer recovery debating on the type of foot and ankle procedure taking place. The type of surgery you have will greatly determine your recovery time.  At Doc Martin’s, we have a few tips and tricks to make getting back on your feet faster and less painful. Foot surgery recovery doesn’t have to be a lengthy or overly painful process.

At Doc Martin’s, we regularly advise patients to use the ‘RICE’ acronym when prescribing aftercare to patients, which stands for rest, ice, compression, and elevation. We know that many offices use this, so you may have heard it before. It’s easy for patients to remember and covers most of what we need them to do when recovering from surgery at home.”  Whether the surgery is for bunions, plantar fasciitis, hammer or claw toes, flat feet, or toenail conditions, the RICE acronym promotes healing, decreases pain, and reduces swelling around the surgical site


It may sound easy, but those who have foot surgery quickly realize that limited mobility is anything but a breeze.  Rest is the most important part of recovering from surgery. Plan to make sure you can get adequate rest after your surgery.  Listen to your body and take it easy; pushing too hard too fast usually results in injury.


Using ice helps to alleviate pain and decrease swelling. If you are using ice or ice packs from your freezer, apply the ice for 20 minutes on and then 20 minutes off.  Don’t forget to place a thin piece of cloth between the ice pack and your skin to protect it from frostbite.  Doc Martin’s has a heating and cooling pack designed for ankle and foot use.


Depending on the type of surgery you have, compression can significantly reduce the risk of deep vein thrombosis.  This condition occurs when a blood clot develops in one of the deep veins, usually in the legs. Wearing a compression stocking reduces your risk of blood clots. Other types of compression treatments, such as toe or ankle wraps, are used to control movement and swelling.


Swelling after surgery can significantly contribute to post-operative pain, especially with foot and/or ankle surgery.  By elevating your foot after surgery swelling can be greatly reduced, therefore significantly reducing pain.  When elevating your foot, always elevate above hip level.  The goal is to bring blood flow away from the extremity, which ultimately reduces pressure and alleviates pain.

It is common for foot surgeries to be accompanied by swelling for several months after surgery.  Like we said above, all recoveries look different. Don’t be discouraged and do not rush your recovery. If you do rush your recovery, you put yourself at risk for re-injury. Continue to use the “RICE” technique, as well as the specific recommendations given to you by your podiatric surgeon.

If you follow these six tips, we’re confident that you’ll have a great recovery following your operation. For more information or tips, reach out to Doc Martin’s office today at 517-879-4241!