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McDowell Podiatry
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Toll Free 888-447-0733
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Is Foot and Ankle Surgery Your Best Option?

When you first felt pain in your feet and ankles, the answer to your problem was clear—go to the doctor. Now, you’ve gone home and tried the recommended treatments, but you’re still not seeing results. How do you know when it’s time to get foot and ankle surgery? That’s something that we can help you with at McDowell Podiatry Group. We can diagnose the how bad your injury is and help decide whether you need surgery or not.

What Surgery Works For You?

A lot of people need surgery for ankle, toe, and stress fractures. Bunions, flat feet, Morton’s neuromas, and Achilles tendinitis are some other conditions that may require a procedure. However, remember that we only recommend these operations after we’ve gone through the entire list of non-surgical methods to get rid of what’s giving you pain.

When you’ve elected to have foot and ankle surgery, you may wonder if you can have both feet operated on at the same time; this depends on your lifestyle. If you have someone at home who’s going to take care of you, a surgery on both feet at the same time might work. However, if you live by yourself or your partner has a full-time job, you may want to have one foot done at a time.

For the first three months after surgery, the healing process will leave your feet in a fair condition. After six months, your foot should be healed to a good degree. It will only start to feel normal after a year. So, you need to consider what life would be like if you were going through the restoration of movement for both feet at the same time.

Procedure and Recovery

Surgery may require a combination of a general anesthetic and a local anesthetic. If you feel numb after your operation, this is normal. The feeling should come back within a day. Expect to see your leg elevated in a bandage or a cast to reduce swelling, pain, and encourage healing. Rest is very important following the procedure. You might want to plan a few days off from your job if your surgery is small and two weeks if your surgery is major.

Don’t get your cast wet during your recovery. If you soften the cast, it won’t be able to give your foot the support it needs to heal properly. If you have a wound, getting the cast wet will invite infections to the area. Anything that could put your cast in danger—like taking a bath or swimming—is off limits. Your cast could accidentally slip into the water, which means you would have to take an additional trip to the hospital to get a new one, which could cost a lot of money. Typically, the dressings need to stay on for two weeks after your procedure. If you see any bruising, oozing, or old blood from the wound, it’s a normal part of the healing process and you shouldn’t worry about it. However, call a doctor if the bleeding is fresh or persists.  

After you go through the operation, you need to know that joint stiffness happens. We might advise that you perform very gentle stretches with your hips, knees, ankles, and toes to get your joints used to moving around again. We’ll also discuss when you can start driving and playing sports. Remember that foot and ankle surgery is not for cosmetic reasons but to get rid of your pain and deformity. You should expect scarring of some sort, depending on how intense your surgery was. As far as nerve damage goes, the numbness is usually temporary and will subside with healing.

Warning Signs That You Need to Call a Doctor

Some symptoms after surgery aren’t normal. Warning signs to watch for are: severe pain, swelling, and tightness that doesn’t go away after an hour of proper elevation; numbness that develops after your surgery or gets worse; and a foul smelling cast. If you exhibit any of these side effects, contact the McDowell Podiatry Group in Carmichael, California immediately at (916) 961-3434.

Dr. Brian McDowell
Dr. Brian McDowell, board-certified podiatrist, provides cutting-edge foot and ankle care in Carmichael, CA.