Please see below frequently asked questions from our patients:
Will my foot hurt afterwards?
It is important that after your surgery you are remain in control of your pain relief. Unfortunately it isn’t possible to perform foot surgery without causing some pain but there are many things we can do to help you control it.
For almost all our surgery we either use a nerve block with local anaesthetic to help reduce or hopefully eliminate pain immediately after surgery. Whilst the anaesthetist cannot guarantee that these measures will always work fully, the majority of our patients wake up after surgery completely pain-free.
Any nerve block or local anaesthetic will wear off over time and usually lasts for 4 to 12 hours; but on occasions it can last for a day or so. This is perfect for keeping you comfortable in the initial phase of your recovery; when it starts to wear off you will be given powerful pain killing tablets for a few days. It is therefore important that you take regular pain relief as soon as you start to be aware of the foot feeling different and do not wait until you are actually in pain. In other words, if the block is still working well when you go to bed, please take pain killers prior to going to sleep so that you are not woken by pain in the night.
For all but the most minor surgery, the team recommends you take regular pain killers for the first three days or so, whether you feel any pain or not. The medication used is normally paracetamol and an anti-inflammatory drug such as ibuprofen. In addition to your regular pain killers you will be sent home with a stronger opiate based drug, such as codeine, to take only if the regular pain killers are not sufficient. However, in our experience many patients do not need to use this.
We discourage using anti-inflammatory drugs for more than a few days, because they can theoretically slow your bone healing. Your surgeon or anaesthetist will advise you if this is the case.
Occasionally, significant pain can be for other reasons. It may be pain from too much swelling which will improve with elevation of your leg.
If you find your pain is not controllable we would like to know. In the first instance get in touch with the ward where either the nurses or the resident medical officer will be able to advise you.
Thankfully uncontrolled pain is rare and the majority of our patients find post-operative pain is not a significant issue. Indeed, many patients are surprised how little pain they have after surgery.
Do I need to keep my foot elevated?
It is important that you keep your leg elevated after surgery. This is to help both with the swelling and for comfort. Any prolonged swelling may cause wound problems and be troublesome.
We advise you try to keep your foot on a level with your heart or at least your hip for about 55 minutes out of every hour for the first three days at least. This can easily be achieved by lying on a sofa or a bed.
How will I move around afterwards?
Your surgeon will advise you before surgery on how you will be getting around after the operation. The team will call this mobilisation and your mobilisation instructions will be confirmed after the operation. You will see the ward physiotherapist, who will ensure that you understand how to mobilise, as well as checking that you are safe and confident to do so. They can assess whether you need any extra help.
Your bespoke instructions will be tailored to you and your specific operation. Broadly speaking the majority of patients having surgery on their foot will be allowed to walk with a special shoe. You will be given crutches for help with balance and advised on how long you need to use them for. Most patients after a major operation to the ankle will be placed in a cast or walker boot after surgery. At least for the first few weeks, you probably will not be allowed to walk on the leg.
For patients having to spend a long time not putting the foot down, there are devices available to rent to make your life easier. Many patients find they regain more independence, using a device such as the “i-Walk” or “Stride-On”. Your physiotherapist will advise you on if they are appropriate and likely to suit you.
What do I do with my dressing?
It is critical that you try to keep your dressings or plaster clean and dry after surgery. The dressing put on in theatre is the cleanest. This is usually changed around two weeks after the operation.
Many patients find a cover such as a “Limbo” makes bathing and showering possible.
If your dressings do accidentally become wet or dirty, please contact the out patient department where one of our nurses will be able to help you.
How do I get help after the surgery?
If you are unsure about the post-operative plan, please contact the Nuffield Nurses with any clinical question, or for clarification of follow appointments call our Personal Assistant at the Cotswold Foot & Ankle Clinic.
24 Hour Contact details
If you need any advice or help at any time after your operation, please call the Nuffield hospital, Cheltenham (01242 246500) or Oxford (01865 307777). You will be put through to a nurse on the ward or in outpatients. If they are unable to help they will speak to your surgeon.
There are many ways to book an appointment at the Cotswold Foot & Ankle Clinic. This may be a referral from either your GP, Hospital Consultant, Chartered Physiotherapist or Podiatrist.
For insured patients you will need to contact your insurance provider. If self-funding you may make a direct referral, but we prefer if you contact your GP, so they can inform us of your medical background.
OUR CONSULTANTS MR BROWN AND MR CLINT ARE MEMBERS OF
Cheltenham Hospital, Nuffield Health
Cheltenham GL51 6SY
The Manor Hospital, Nuffield Health
Oxford OX3 7RP
01242 246 559