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Ankle replacement - discharge

Alternate Names

Ankle arthroplasty - total - discharge; Total ankle arthroplasty - discharge; Endoprosthetic ankle replacement - discharge

When You Were in the Hospital

You had an ankle replacement. Your surgeon removed and reshaped damaged bones, and put in an artificial ankle joint.

You received pain medication and were shown how to treat swelling around your new ankle joint.

What to Expect at Home

Your ankle area may feel warm and tender for 4-6 weeks.

You will need help with daily chores such as driving, shopping, bathing, making meals, housework for up to 6 weeks. You will need to keep weight off of the foot for 10 - 12 weeks. Recovery can take 3 - 6 months. It may take up to 6 months before you return to normal activity levels.

Activity

Your doctor will ask you to rest when you first go home. Keep your leg propped up on one or two pillows. Place the pillows below your foot or calf muscle. This helps reduce swelling.

It is very important to elevate your leg. Keep it above heart level is possible. Swelling can lead to poor wound healing and other surgery complications.

You will be asked to keep all weight off of your foot for 10-12 weeks. You will need to use a walker or crutches.

  • You will need to wear a cast or a splint. Take the cast or splint off only when your doctor or physical therapist says it is okay.
  • Try not to stand for long periods.
  • Do the exercises your doctor or physical therapist showed you.

You will go to physical therapy to help your recovery.

  • You will start with range of motion exercises for your ankle.
  • You will learn exercises to strengthen the muscles around your ankle next.
  • Your therapist will slowly increase the amount and type of activities as you build strength.

Do not start heavier exercises, such as jogging, swimming, aerobics, or bicycling, until your doctor or therapist tells you it is okay. Ask your doctor when it will be safe for you to return to work or drive.

Wound Care

Your sutures (stitches) will be removed about 1 - 2 weeks after surgery. You should keep your incision clean and dry for 2 weeks. Keep your bandage on your wound clean and dry. You may change the dressing every day if you like.

Do NOT shower until after your follow-up appointment with your doctor. Your doctor will tell you when you can begin taking showers. When you do start showering again, let the water run over the incision. Do NOT scrub.

Do NOT soak the wound in the bath or a hot tub.

 

Pain

Your doctor will give you a prescription for pain medicine. Get it filled when you go home so you have it when you need it. Take your pain medicine when you start having pain so the pain doesn't get too bad. 

Taking ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) or another anti-inflammatory medicine may also help. Talk to your doctor about what other medicines you can take with your pain medicine.

When to Call the Doctor

Call your doctor or nurse if you notice:

  • Bleeding that soaks through your dressing and does not stop when you put pressure over the area
  • Pain that does not go away with your pain medicine
  • Swelling or pain in your calf muscle
  • Your foot or toes appear darker or are cool to the touch
  • Redness, pain, swelling, or yellowish discharge from the wound sites
  • Your temperature is higher than 101 °F

References

Murphy GA. Total ankle arthroplasty. In: Canale ST, Beatty JH, eds. Campbell's Operative Orthopaedics. 12th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier; 2012:chap 10.

Review Date: 11/15/2012
Reviewed By: C. Benjamin Ma, MD, Assistant Professor, Chief, Sports Medicine and Shoulder Service, UCSF Department of Orthopaedic Surgery. Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, David R. Eltz, Stephanie Slon, and Nissi Wang.
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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Saint Joseph Regional Medical Center  |  5215 Holy Cross Parkway, Mishawaka, IN 46545  |  574-335-5000

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