The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine

Ankle & Foot Surgery Recovery Advice: Take It Easy

Posted by on Wednesday, October 2nd, 2013


Patients often wonder: “What are the best things I can do to make my recovery quicker and less painful?” They wonder how to properly elevate their feet, whether they should remove the bandage while showering, and how quickly they can return to activity. We’ll give you a rundown of a few essential points to keep in mind during your foot or ankle surgery recovery.

ankle surgery
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Return To Activity

Dr. Nadia Levy of The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine cautions patients against trying to “pick up where they left off” once they are feeling better. “After an injury, be gradual and controlled when returning to regular activities,” she says. “Never jump back into full activity or else you risk re-injury — and also new injuries!” Needless to say, we see a lot of the same people back in our office who were previously on the mend!


It was previously assumed that bathing would be troublesome to the recovery process. Therefore, patients had to shower with one leg hanging out of the tub or cover their bandages in plastic. However, a new review of nine separate studies and over 2,000 patients found that none of the patients who bathed normally (with their bandages removed) developed a post-surgical infection.

Joint Exercises

“Even if you need to keep weight off your foot while it’s healing, it’s usually a good idea to lightly move your foot and ankle joints periodically after your surgery to keep from possibly forming a clot in your leg,” says NYC podiatrist Dr. Katherine Lai. She advises patients to check with their doctor before surgery for more specific instructions on routine exercises that will expedite healing.

elevation ankle surgery
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Ice & Elevation

In most cases, 48-72 hours of icing is recommended to keep swelling down. Ice should be placed on the foot or ankle for 20-30 minutes per hour while awake. This practice will also keep pain at a minimum. Elevation is also important to keep pain and swelling limited. To properly elevate, you should lie on a bed or couch and place two pillows beneath the foot to get it above heart level. The foot should be elevated whenever you are not moving around.

Rest & Relaxation

It’s best to enjoy a little R&R and prepare for the long haul following foot and ankle surgery. “The Foot and Ankle are beautifully complex anatomical regions. Therefore, surgery to correct foot and ankle pathologies are often complex, no matter how seemingly small or how often a foot and ankle surgeon performs them,” explains our specialist, Dr. Ryan Minara.

“While the doctors here at the Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine always strive to have the patient return to function as soon as possible, a patient should not rush back to activity. The recovery period is a huge portion of overall surgical success.”

The Bottom Line on Ankle & Foot Surgery Recovery:

Kick those feet up, grab a good book, write a few letters to old friends, stock up on Netflix, and enjoy this time to relax and recuperate. It may not feel natural, but it’s essential for the long-term health of your most heavily-relied-upon allies: the feet!


If you have any foot problems or pain, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports MedicineDr. Josef J. GeldwertDr. Katherine Lai, Dr. Ryan Minara and Dr. Mariola Rivera have helped thousands of people get back on their feet. Unfortunately, we cannot give diagnoses or treatment advice online. Please make an appointment to see us if you live in the NY metropolitan area or seek out a podiatrist in your area.