Post-operative instructions for foot surgery patients

Now that you have had your operation you should ensure that you have the following before leaving hospital:

  • A post operative shoe
  • Crutches
  • Pain killers and any other tablets recommended
  • An appointment for a re-dressing
  • Provided a contact number for the following day

The immediate post operative period is an extremely important part of your recovery. The instructions in this leaflet are designed to reduce your pain, minimise swelling and reduce the risk of bleeding and infection. You will improve your chances of a successful outcome by following these closely.

Pain control

You should receive tablets from the hospital and should start to take these before the anaesthetic wears off. It is better to stop the pain from occurring rather than trying to get rid of it. Your anaesthetic may last for 2-3 hours (longer in some cases).

Please ensure that you follow the instructions on the packet and DO NOT exceed the stated dose. If you have been advised two types of pain killers, these can be alternated rather than taken together. In this way, you will be able to have pain relief more frequently.

Pain is usually worst on the first and sometimes the second nights. It should start to ease on the second to third days.

Ice packs or a packet of frozen peas, wrapped in a thin flannel/small towel can be placed over the ankle for 2 minutes every 5 minutes to help ease the pain.

If the pain is severe during the first two days (i.e. keeps you awake etc.), persists for three days or returns at a later date, it may indicate that you have insufficient medication, have been doing too much or may have an infection. Please contact your specialist for advice.

At Home

  • Keep the foot well elevated using pillows, blankets etc. Elevation reduces swelling and therefore pain.
  • Do not let your foot drop below waist height for long periods, or stand, as this will cause swelling and pain.
  • A cardboard box, upside down, with a hole cut out for the foot will help to keep bedclothes off the foot.
  • Do not roll pillows into a ball beneath the calf, as this will affect the blood supply to the foot. The whole of your leg and foot should be raised evenly on the pillows.
  • Exercise your leg muscles regularly by drawing circles with your feet in the air. Alternatively you can pretend to draw the alphabet. Do not try to wriggle your toes.
  • You should not walk on your foot for two – four days. You will be advised if you are required to remain non weightbearing for a longer period.
  • After this period, gentle walking can begin within pain limits. If your foot hurts, you have done too much, so stop and elevate your foot.
  • Some foot operations use wires that protrude from the skin. These can get caught on clothing if you are not careful. If a wire becomes loose, do not try and push it back in, contact your specialist.
  • Many operations use wires or screws that are buried deep beneath the skin. These can sometimes become loose following the operation. This is rare in the early post operative period and tends to occur many weeks or months following the operation. You will know this because it will be tender over the area. If this should happen, please get in touch with your specialist as soon as possible. Do not remove these yourself.
  • Some bleeding may come through the dressing. If this is the case, draw around the area of blood and, if it continues to get bigger, contact your specialist.

If you have any concerns please contact the hospital for advice and they will contact Mr Prior if necessary.

Foot Surgery

We provide surgical management for a wide range of foot conditions including detailed assessment and post operative care.


Podiatric biomechanics involves the assessment of the structure, alignment and function of the feet and legs.

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