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Dos and don’ts after ankle surgery

08 June 2018

After surgery, it is very important to look after your ankle to ensure your bones heal correctly. This is particularly true after a procedure to repair fractured bones. Orthopaedic Surgeon Mr Ben Jeffcote shares his top tips for what you can do to achieve the best results post-surgery.

1. Take your time 

Even though your foot/ankle might feel great, your broken bones can take up to six weeks to heal – even longer if you also have ligament damage.

Therefore, it is vital that you don’t do any weight bearing or exercise involving the ankle until your surgeon gives you the OK.

Putting unnecessary strain on a recovering ankle could cause the healing bones to move and extend your recovery time further.

2. Use your supports

After surgery, you may have a cast on your foot and ankle to help keep the healing bones in place.

After your cast is removed, you may still need to wear a brace or other support for a while to play sport or exercise.

It is vital to wear these if your surgeon recommends them to prevent further injury to an already vulnerable joint.

Similarly, if your surgeon has requested that you use a walking aid during your recovery (ie crutches or a walking frame), use one.

3. Exercise with care

Once you have been given the go ahead to start weight bearing and exercise again, it is important to take it slowly.

Only do activities that have been approved by your surgeon or physiotherapist and make sure you do complete all the exercises you are given. This strengthens the muscles that were unused during recovery and helps improve your ankle’s stability. It also helps with regaining a full range of movement.

If bones heal incorrectly, your joint may be susceptible to complications such as arthritis in later life. You may also be required to have more corrective surgery.

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Mr Ben Jeffcote - Orthopaedic Surgeon

Ben Jeffcote is a consultant orthopaedic surgeon who works at St John of God Murdoch Hospital. Ben performs all types of orthopaedic surgery with a particular focus on knee replacement biomechanics, knee ligament balance and patellofemoral kinematics. His current research interests include knee cartilage reconstruction, outcomes of arthroscopic meniscal surgery and robotic assistance on partial knee arthroplasty.