The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine

Foot Surgery Recovery: Home Care Advice

Posted by on Thursday, May 2nd, 2013


Foot surgery recovery is no walk in the park. Sixty-five-year-old Manhattan resident Annie Brumbaugh had two serious foot surgeries and a bone graft done on her foot. “This is not easy,” she told the New York Times. “Most people have no idea what they are in for,” she added. Preparing for post-operative recovery took a lot more than stocking up on DVDs, quick / easy meals and books, she found. This blog is designed to help you heal faster and more efficiently through proper home care preparation.

Foot Surgery Supplies: What You’ll Need During Recovery

Depending on the type of surgery you’re having, you could also need:

  • A nurse to change bandages for you or administer intravenous medication
  • Crutches, a walker, wheelchair, or scooter to help you get around
  • A bath seat, detachable shower nozzle, cast protector, or additional supports for the toilet
  • A memory foam pillow to help keep your foot elevated during recovery
  • Ice packs to ease the swelling and a cooler to keep them in easy reach
  • Bed backrest supports for when you’d like to be seated and a hospital tray for dining in bed
  • Comfy clothes — like a long bathrobe and sweats — for easy access to the bathroom when resting at home

As we discussed in a previous blog about recovering from bunion surgery, planning ahead is key. For instance, you may need someone to come to your house and prepare meals or take care of your pets for you during your initial recovery. Even one precarious step can derail all the progress you’ve made in your healing. Before your surgery, you’ll also want to get your hair cut, clean up the house, do the laundry, mow the lawn, stock up on groceries, and arrange your rest area to have everything you’ll need within reach. When friends or family members ask if you need help, do take them up on their generous offers!

How To Mentally Prepare For Recovering From Foot Surgery

One of the most difficult aspects of foot surgery recovery is accepting that the body needs time to heal. We live in such a fast-paced, busy society that it can be depressing to slow things down for a little while and allow the foot due process. You wouldn’t believe some of the stories we hear from people!

One man broke his foot and wanted to know if he could still take a three-month-long mountain climbing trip the next week. Other patients assume they’ll just take the week off work and that should suffice. For most surgeries, we tell patients they can return to work in a boot or oversized sneaker after taking two weeks off to heal. Of course, it depends on the type of surgery you’re having. Although, as you can see from this Health Boards discussion thread, it’s not at all uncommon to have a long, slow recovery that lasts four or even six weeks.

Mentally, you just want to be better. Mentally, you still want to do it all for yourself. Mentally, you are prepared to hit the ground running the moment you begin to feel less pain. Please take our advice with an open heart and mind: you must resist your natural instincts at all costs! We understand that our culture emphasizes physical perfectionism and productivity at all times, but perhaps a slower pace and less critical culture are more essential to our self-preservation.

As you heal, remember the benefits of foot surgery. Try to keep yourself focused on the long-term and understand that a successful, complications-free recovery now will result in faster healing time in the long run. Take it slow. Make each movement a mindful one. Take a deep breath and be thankful for some of the other things you have in life. These concepts may not come naturally, so try reading spiritual books to focus on physical and spiritual healing.

The power of mind over body has been studied considerably. Gail Ironson, a professor at the University of Miami, conducted research on AIDS patients to test the impact of spirituality after diagnosis on disease progression. She focused on viral load (how much virus was present in the body) and the presence of disease-fighting CD4 immune cells. What Ironson found astounded her. “People who felt abandoned by God and who decreased in spirituality lost their CD4 cells 4.5 times faster than people who increased in spirituality,” she said.


What To Look Out For During Foot Surgery Recovery

Naturally, being vigilant is an important part of recovery. Even though we have patients back into the office for multiple visits to check their progress, it is still vital that our patients keep an eye on their own progress. Yes, there will be inflammation, some pain, and even some tingling during the healing. Yet, there are some symptoms that should not be ignored.

The University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health warns to watch for the following:

  • A temperature above 100.5° F for two readings during the day
  • Increased tingling or numbness
  • Continuous decrease in warmth
  • Increased pain, swelling, or redness at the point of incision
  • Increased swelling of the foot and calf that does not go away after elevation
  • Drainage from the incision — especially if it’s soaking through a bandage every hour

Thanks for taking the time to read this guide to your recovery. Your friends here at The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine wish you a happy and healthy healing!


If you have any foot problems or pain, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports MedicineDr. Josef J. GeldwertDr. Katherine Lai, Dr. Ryan Minara and Dr. Mariola Rivera have helped thousands of people get back on their feet. Unfortunately, we cannot give diagnoses or treatment advice online. Please make an appointment to see us if you live in the NY metropolitan area or seek out a podiatrist in your area.