A total ankle replacement can be the perfect answer for patients dealing with moderate to severe ankle arthritis or significant issues caused by trauma to the ankle joint. As you might imagine, a total ankle replacement procedure is a big undertaking for your body that will require months of rehabilitation in order to get back to the strongest version of yourself.
With that said, if you are smart about how you approach your rehab and you trust your care to a great team like the one you’ll find at The Centers For Advanced Orthopaedics, you can shave some time off your total recovery time. In today’s blog we share some tips for how you can speed up your recovery after total ankle replacement.
Fast Recovery After Total Ankle Replacement
During total ankle replacement, damaged parts of your joints and bones are removed and replaced with artificial hardware, and it will take some time for the joints to heal around and to these components. You won’t be able to do anything to miraculously speed up this healing process, but you can certainly help the process along if you attack your rehab in a certain way. Here are some things you can do to speed up your recovery after total ankle replacement.
- Work To Control Swelling - Swelling is a natural response to physical trauma, and while it’s your body’s way of protecting further injury, it can also slow down the healing process by inhibiting healthy fluid movement in and out of the area. By working to control swelling, you can increase blood flow to the area and jumpstart the healing process. The best way to control swelling in the immediate aftermath of surgery is to elevate your leg so that fluid doesn’t pool in the ankle area. Elevate your leg per your doctor’s instructions numerous times throughout the day during your initial recovery period.
- Do Your PT Exercises - When it comes to your physical therapy exercises after a total ankle replacement procedure, the motto will be “early and often.” Early physical therapy will help control swelling and improve function, kickstarting the recovery process. As you take on more activity during these sessions, your artificial ankle will only become stronger, so long as you don’t skip your sessions. You need to be doing your PT exercises regularly to make the strongest recovery, but doing physical therapy can also help you recover sooner.
- Mind Your Diet - Spinach may have made Popeye extra strong, and while it won’t have the same affect on your body, you can certainly help or hurt your recovery based on your dietary choices during your rehab period. While some junk foods and unhealthy options can be pro-inflammatory and slow down recovery, the real key is to ensure that you eat a healthy diet so as not to gain weight while you’re recovering. You won’t be as active during your recovery, and if you eat a lot of calories that you can’t burn off, you’ll inevitably gain weight. Guess which structures have to bear this added stress? Your feet! Eat right to maintain a healthy weight or even shed a few pounds so that your new ankle isn’t overburdened as you work to recover.
- Know The Signs Of A Problem - Before you’re discharged, make sure that you are aware of some of the signs of a problem during your recovery. Initially, you’ll want to watch for signs of an infection, which can include redness, heat and discolored discharge at the surgery site. As you recover, worsening discomfort or new symptoms could be a sign that something is up with your foot. Be aware of the symptoms and reach out to your doctor at the first sign of an issue to keep your recovery on track.
- Goal Setting - Finally, it’s typically easier to keep your rehab on track and do all of the things listed above if you regularly set some short- and long-term goals for yourself. What activities do you want to be able to do again once you’ve recovered, or what would you like to accomplish during your next PT sessions? Goal setting can make it easier to follow through on important aspects of your recovery, like doing your physical therapy exercises, making healthy food choices and following your doctor’s instructions. Give yourself some goals and work hard to achieve them, and odds are your recovery will speed up!
For more information about total ankle replacement or the recovery process, reach out to the team at The Centers For Advanced Orthopaedics today at (703) 584-2040.