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Stepping Toward Recovery: Your Guide to Foot Surgery Rehabilitation

recovering from foot surgery - elevated foot on sofa with crutches

The success of your foot surgery relies primarily on the skill of your surgeon, the reason for the surgery, your overall health - and what you do during the recovery period.

How to Optimize Your Recovery from Foot Surgery

Your recovery time will vary depending on the procedure you underwent, your overall health, and how quickly you heal. You can take steps to optimize the healing process, though, and even shorten your recovery period.


Follow the Post-surgical Instructions Provided by Your Doctor

Your surgical team will provide specific guidelines for you to follow as your foot heals. These guidelines are designed to optimize the healing process and shorten your recovery time. Each point laid out in the guidelines has a purpose, so try to follow the instructions closely and in the right order.


The post-operative instructions will tell you when to elevate your foot and how to clean the surgical site. If you find any part of the instructions confusing, please contact your surgeon’s office for clarification.


Prepare a “Recovery Zone”

Rest is an essential part of the healing process. When it comes to recovering from foot surgery, rest means staying off your feet for several days - and this can require preplanning.


  • Before your procedure, set up a recovery station that puts necessary items within your reach. Depending on your personal needs and preferences, your recovery zone may include:
  • TV remote
  • Food and beverage
  • Pillows you can use to elevate your foot
  • Crutches, cane, or other mobility aid suggested by your surgeon

Prior to your surgery, make your home easier to navigate. Clear a path from your bed or recliner to your bathroom, for example, and remove or tape down throw rugs so you don’t slip or fall.


Move furniture out of the way, but leave yourself places to sit down quickly if you experience pain or lightheadedness.


If you live alone, ask a friend or family member to stay with you the first day and night after your surgery. After that, ask them to check in on you several times a day, run for supplies, or bring hot meals as needed.


Monitor the Incision(s)

To perform your foot surgery, your doctor had to create one or more incisions (wounds). While you may be nervous about looking at the incision(s), it is critical that you inspect the surgical site frequently.


When you check the surgical site, inspect the incisions for the following signs of infection:

  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Bleeding
  • Drainage
  • Pain that does not get better with medication
  • Fever, chills

Contact your surgeon right away if you develop any signs of infection or other serious problems with the incisions or surgical site.


Stay Ahead of Your Pain

Take a pain reliever at the first sign of pain. If your pain gets to a certain level, it can interfere with the healing process. What’s more, relieving mild to moderate pain is easier than trying to get severe pain under control.


Follow all instructions provided with your prescription or over-the-counter pain reliever. If your pain intensifies or becomes unbearable, call your surgeon’s office.


Be Prepared to Feel a Bit Emotional

Any kind of surgery takes an emotional toll - after all, surgery is a major event that can change the course of your life. Foot surgery will likely improve your mobility and help you regain a more normal life, but surgery and the recovery phase are still stressful.


You may experience a wide range of post-surgical emotions, such as stress from missing work or school, helplessness or embarrassment after relying on others, frustration from limited mobility after surgery, and hopefulness of improved mobility after recovery.


While these emotions are completely normal, they can slow healing. To avoid a slowdown in your recovery, find ways to stay busy. Read books, for example, surf the internet or do crosswords. Talk to a friend or family member if you feel overwhelmed.


To learn more about optimizing your recovery the day after foot surgery, contact the surgical team at Sweeney Foot & Ankle the surgical team at Sweeney Foot & Ankle. We provide leading-edge medical and surgical management of the foot and ankle in The Woodlands and in Magnolia, TX.