General After Surgery Care
Below are general after surgery care instructions. If you are concerned, Dr. Davis wants to know!
Call the Office: 563-355-2210
- If you have a fever over 101°F.
- If you have increasing pain after the initial post op pain has settled down.
- If you have increasing redness, swelling, or drainage.
- If you have any questions or concerns. We welcome phone calls!
Bandages and Bleeding: Do not worry if there is blood on the bandage. What looks like a lot of blood on the bandage is actually a small amount. Blood on the dressing spreads out as it is absorbed by the gauze, the same way a drop of water spreads out on a paper towel. If the bandages feel wet or dry, stiff and uncomfortable, call the office during office hours and we will schedule a time for you to have the bandage changed.
Unless you are specifically told otherwise, we will do the first bandage change in the office.
Keep your bandage dry. If the bandage becomes wet or soiled, notify the office and we will schedule a time to change the bandage.
Pain Control: The best way to control pain is to “stay ahead” of the pain. The local anesthesia used during surgery usually controls the pain for 6 to 8 hours after surgery. This gives you a head start on controlling the pain. You will take the first dose of pain pills before going home. For the best pain control, take pain pills every 4 hours for the first 2 days after surgery. At night, set a single dose of pain medication and a glass of water on your bedside table. If you wake up during the night, take the medication. On the 3rd day after surgery, begin taking the pain medication on an “as needed” schedule. Remember, to stay ahead of the pain, medication must be taken before the pain gets out of control. Once the pain gets out of control, it is very difficult to “catch up” with the pain. Don’t worry about using a lot of pain medication the first week after surgery. You won’t become addicted to pain medication by using it for a week or two!
Nausea: Nausea is a common side effect of anesthetic and pain medications. Therefore, nausea medication is often prescribed. If nausea medicine is prescribed, take it regularly during the first 2 days after surgery. If you have a history of severe post op nausea, please let Dr. Davis know. There are additional measures we can take to minimize this unpleasant side effect.
Activity and Walking: It is best to spend most of the first 2 days after surgery lying down with the foot elevated above the level of your heart. Thereafter, moving about the home as needed is OK, but when sitting or laying down, elevate the foot on several pillows.
In most cases, you will be allowed to walk on the operated foot immediately. Even though you are allowed to walk on the operated foot, it may be uncomfortable, so having a walker or crutches is helpful, so please plan to rent a walker or crutches for the first week or two after surgery.
Specific weight bearing instructions are given for your particular surgery. “Non Weight Bearing” means that you cannot put weight on your foot. “Weight Bearing as Tolerated” means that you can safely put weight on the foot as comfort allows.
Swelling: It is common to have swelling after foot surgery and often it lasts much longer than you would like! The best way to control swelling is to elevate the foot above your heart as much as possible during the first two weeks after surgery. Applying ice for 20 minutes several times a day also helps control swelling. It is best to take two weeks off work after surgery so that the foot can be elevated and swelling minimized. Getting back into regular shoes may take several months because of swelling.
Healing: Bone typically takes 6 weeks to heal so you will wear a stiff post op shoe or protective boot for a minimum of 6 weeks after surgery. During this time, avoid excessive or unnecessary walking. If you like to exercise, riding a stationary bike, placing your heel on the pedal is OK.
Driving: Do not drive until you are able to respond in an emergency (i.e. slam on the brakes). This usually occurs after the bone has healed – 6 weeks.
Shoes: Expect to wear begin wearing “foot friendly shoes” 6-8 weeks after surgery when swelling has decreased. Sometimes swelling persists beyond 6-8 weeks. In the summertime, sandals are a good option. In the winter, buy a pair of roomy shoes that fit the swollen foot. If the shoe for the non operated foot is too big, buy an inexpensive cushion insole to put into the shoe. Most of your shoes will fit after the swelling goes down, but it is best to get rid of tight shoes and shoes that have a narrow, pointed toe box.