Our ankles are often taken for granted but they help keep us balanced and able to move around. Ankle surgery can be a life-saving procedure when other treatments fail, though after the operation it may take time for patients to get back on their feet.
A common misconception is that once you’ve had ankle surgery, rehabilitation is complete – this isn’t always true! Physical therapy after recovery from a surgical procedure facilitates continued healing of the area by ensuring mobility and strength are at their highest levels possible for optimal functionality. Some examples of related complications that rehab after surgery may help with include:
- Preventing blood clots
- Reducing post-surgery swelling and inflammation in the affected area.
- Eliminating scar tissue.
- Increasing strength in the ankle and restoring your range of motion.
Treatment Tools and Modalities for Ankle Rehabilitation
Normally, physical therapy will begin between two to six weeks after surgery. Everyone heals at a different rate, and your therapy timeline will depend on your kind of foot and ankle surgery, underlying health conditions, and age. Treatment and tools that our therapists may use to eliminate health risks related after surgery effects include but are not limited to:
- Manual therapy that relieves muscle stiffness.
- Your therapist will mobilize soft tissue to break down scar tissue.
- Joint mobilization (passive exercises) to stretch, improve and strengthen your range of motion. Your therapist will be moving the joint and whole foot for you.
- Dry needling is a procedure where the physical therapist inserts fine needles into your foot’s trigger points or muscle to treat movement and painful impairments.
- Electrical stimulation increases functional mobility and decreases discomfort.
- K-taping (kinesiology) to decrease swelling and pain in the foot and improve circulation.
- Swimming, stationary bicycle, or walking to improve cardiovascular function.
- Exercises using specialized weights.
- Aftercare for arthritis patients
- Yoga and balance work.
- Foot and ankle massage
- Protective gear to support the ankles
Types of Ankle Surgery
The appropriate surgery to treat an ankle depends on health factors and the extent of the damage. Some ankle fractures, torn tendons, sprains, and illnesses such as arthritis may need surgery. Our medical team and doctors will determine the best option for you; your options for surgery include:
Ankle arthroscopy: Damaged cartilage, loose bone fragments, and torn ligaments like a severely sprained ankle can all be treated with an arthroscopy. It’s a minimally invasive procedure where our surgeons will make a small incision through which they’ll insert a narrow fiber-optic tube with a video function, the arthroscope. Due to the preciseness and small size of incisions in the surgery, you’ll experience less prospective pain than traditional surgery, and your ligaments will recover faster.
Ankle fracture surgery: If you break any bone amongst the bones that comprise your ankle joint, your surgeon can repair the broken ankle bones and relieve your joint pain through surgery and metal plates. This may include repositioning the broken bone fragments and using metal plates and screws to maintain and hold the bone fragments together to help foster proper healing.
Ankle replacement: During an ankle replacement surgery, the doctor removes all the damaged ends of the ankle bones and replaces them by attaching a prosthetic ankle in their place. Healthy individuals with advanced arthritis are candidates for an ankle replacement.
Although an ankle replacement surgery may relieve pain, your surgeon may advise that you keep off high-impact activities to keep you from damaging your newly installed artificial ankle joint.
Ankle Fusion: As the name suggests, ankle fusion surgery involves fusing bones together. In ankle fusion surgery, your surgeons will remove the damaged tissues that permanently join the bones using metal plates and screws. After your ankle fusion surgery, the damaged bones naturally fuse into one bone as they heal.
Lateral ankle ligament reconstruction:
Lateral ankle ligament reconstruction is a surgery that tightens and firms up one or more of the ankle ligaments outside your ankle. The procedure helps stabilize and strengthen the ankle, especially when you have had recurrent ankle sprains.
Benefits of post-surgery rehab
Post-surgical rehab begins with an assessment of your ankle to guide our therapists to learn your specific challenges. After the assessments, our therapists build you a personalized post-surgical rehab plan. Your PSR program is a combination of methods designed to offer you multiple benefits to your healing process. Three specific benefits that all patients are most likely to receive include:
- Improvement of muscle strength: Immobilizing an ankle after surgery poses a risk of developing complications such as a decreased muscle volume. A medical study showed that a patient loses almost 22% of their calf muscle volume after a four-week ankle immobilization. Increased range of motion: An ankle surgery may leave you immobile. After surgery, rehab helps increase your motion to enable you to go back to your normal daily routine.
- Decreasing pain. Pain is a common symptom after ankle surgery. Post-surgery rehab decreases it. Joint Mobilization, for instance, is a kind of manual therapy that reduces pain.
When Should Rehab After Ankle Surgery Be Done?
In some cases, rehabilitation activities may be started immediately after surgery. In other cases, the rehabilitation may be delayed until a boot, splint, or cast is removed in cases like ankle tendon surgical procedures. In the majority of cases, expect rehabilitation activities to last anywhere between two and twelve months.
If you have an underlying illness such as arthritis, the rehab may need a few extra weeks. Some surgeries, such as a fusion, may also require more frequent visits before you’re comfortably back on your feet. The doctors will conduct an assessment using tools such as X-rays to determine how long your rehab should be.
Consult the Dependable Podiatrist in Eagle Mountain!
Are you in search of effective rehab healthcare after an ankle surgical procedure? Our team at Rogers Foot and Ankle Institute is what you are looking for. Visit us for screening to help our doctors reveal your post-surgical issues and get you back on your feet. Our medical team excels at creating post-surgical rehab plans to suit every individualized, personalized post-surgical rehab plan to suit your injury.
Take the next step and get the assistance you need after ankle surgery. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we have prioritized patient safety. Therefore, you should call us first to advise on your options and limit social interaction. Call our healthcare team for information and even schedule an initial hospital appointment.