PATIENT INFORMATION ANKLE & HINDFOOT FUSIONS
Ankle and hindfoot fusions are performed for a variety of reasons. These included but are not limited to, post-traumatic arthritis, inflammatory arthritis, deformity, paralytic conditions and degenerative arthritis. Fusions are often associated in relieving pain at the expense of some loss of motion.
What can I expect after surgery?
Typically the first post-operative night is spent in the hospital to receive antibiotics and pain medication. The physical and occupational therapists will instruct you in the proper use of crutches and/or a walker on the day after surgery and ensure you have the proper equipment when you go home. As a general rule, you may go home after one night in the hospital.
You can expect some pain, discomfort and swelling after surgery. These are normal responses to the surgical procedure. Numbing medication is often placed in your foot during surgery to assist with post-operative pain control. Therefore, it is common to have areas of numbness that last several hours after surgery.
When you are discharged from the hospital, you will be given a prescription for pain medication. You can decrease the level of pain by elevating the affected foot above the level of your heart. “Toes to your nose.” Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (i.e., ibuprofen, Motrin, naproxen, Relafen, Aleve, etc) may be used sparingly in conjunction with your pain medication.
Dressings & Weight-Bearing
The first two weeks post-op are the non-weight bearing in a splint that is put on during surgery.
The next four weeks are spent in a non-weight bearing short leg cast.
The final six weeks are spent in a short leg walking cast. You may put weight on the leg during these six weeks.
At three months you are placed in a removable fracture walker (boot) or regular shoes. It is common to wear a knee-high compression stocking to control swelling.
Occasionally, shoe modifications are necessary for comfort such as rocker bottom soles, stiff soled shoes or cushioned heels. This will be decided during your post-op course.
After healing has been achieved, you can gradually increase your activities. Swimming and biking are excellent forms of exercise after this type of surgery. You can expect some discomfort and swelling which should gradually improve, with full recovery taking approximately 6-8 months from the time of surgery.
A walking program should start with short distances and slow speeds on flat ground and gradually progress as your swelling and discomfort allows. As a general rule, there will be minimal activity restrictions after 6-8 months, but it is best to avoid impact activities.
Diet & Healing
An important factor in healing is to avoid nicotine use. Nicotine is associated with delayed healing of your surgical wound and bone non-union. Non-union means that the bone do not heal together properly and additional surgery may be required. Eating a balanced diet will help you heal. Vitamin C (500 mg twice daily) and calcium supplementation are recommended.