Most patients remain in hospital for 2 – 3 days after the operation. You will have a temporary cast below the knee, and will usually be required to non-weight bear with crutches initially. Occasionally you will be allowed to bear weight after a few days.
Your temporary cast and wound dressings will be changed and stitches removed (if applicable) at the clinic during your follow-up appointment, which is usually about 10 days after the operation. In those patients allowed to bear weight sooner, a walker boot is applied after only a few days.
Swelling is quite common after foot and ankle surgery and this is best managed by elevating the foot at regular intervals. You are advised to elevate the operated foot/ankle on a pillow every night and during the day on three separate occasions, e.g. 11am, 3pm and 6pm for about one hour each time. The above measures will help to reduce swelling of the ankle. These instructions should be followed for at least 10-14 days.
After 10 days you will be allowed “protected weight-bearing” in a special removable walker-boot. The usual length of time until unprotected weight-bearing is 10 weeks.
Patients having had the left ankle operated on will be able to drive an automatic car within 2-3 weeks (short distances only to avoid swelling). Those who have had an operation on the right side will be able to drive after about 12 weeks. You are advised not to fly after surgery for about six weeks.
If you have a desk job and are able to get to work, you should be able to return to work with your foot up in the boot or plaster after 2-4 weeks. If on the other hand you do manual work, you will need at least 12 weeks off work.
After Achilles tendon reconstruction the ankle can be stiff and almost always requires a period of physiotherapy, which also helps to recover strength in the calf muscle. Golf, walking and even running short distances are all possible after a successful reconstruction.