What To Ask Before Surgery?

Most importantly: How long will I be off work or convalescing?

Believe it or not, the most common complaint recovering after foot surgery is boredom not pain. Although you will probably be able to walk and bear weight on your operative foot, you’ll need to most of the time stay off your foot and keep it elevated. That means lying down which means doing kind of nothing. Depending on which surgery you have had or multiple procedures, you may need to stay down most of the time at home as if you were in the hospital for a couple or several days after your procedure.

Returning to work depends entirely on what type of work you do and what procedure you had done. If your job is sedentary, sitting behind a computer for instance, you might be able to return to work in a couple of days after a bunionectomy, hammertoe correction, Morton’s neuroma, or heel spur surgery. However, if you have to stand or walk a lot at work, you may have to take off four to ten weeks depending on your level of health and which procedure you had done. If returning to work at a certain time is an issue, you should discuss a conservative return to work time with your surgeon.

Will I be in a cast and will I need crutches?

For most foot surgeries you will be in a surgical walking shoe with Velcro straps. Definitely not Gucci but it’s functional for walking without a cast or crutches. The surgical walking shoe works well for most podiatric surgeries such as bunionectomies, hammertoe correction, Morton’s neuroma removal, heel spur removal, fasciotomy for plantar fasciitis and other bone spur removals. You may need to be in the surgical shoe for two to four weeks.

If you are having a rear foot or ankle reconstruction/fusion/osteotomy procedure, you then may have to be in a cast, removable cam walker and or crutches non weight bearing for six to eight weeks.

When can I get back into my shoes?

This truly is the $64,000 foot surgery question. This depends mostly on the amount of swelling that will occur in your foot after surgery. In many older patients swelling may persist even though the important structures deep in you foot have become stable and mostly healed. Late in the healing stages, persistent swelling usually is just water. Not a sign of non-healing. However, swelling can also mean that the underlying structures are not healed yet and not ready for a shoe. So, once again wearing shoes will depend on what surgery you had and your level of medical health.

What type of shoe is a very big factor. Women obviously have a bigger challenge in returning to a dress shoe than men. If it is a high heeled pump, it may be several months before this type of shoe can be worn as opposed to a running shoe that you may be able to put on in four weeks say after a bunionectomy. Be sure to tell your surgeon when and what type of shoes you need to wear when you return to work.

More Questions

  • What is the most common risk of surgery?
  • What will happen if I don’t have surgery now or ever?
  • What is the worst risk of having or not having surgery?
  • What are the alternatives to this surgery?
  • Do I personally have a greater risk of complication from surgery the other patients?
  • Can my surgery be done in the office vs the surgery center or hospital?
  • Will I need someone to care for me after surgery and if so how long?
  • When will I be able to drive. Does my car have a clutch?
  • When do I need to stop taking anti-inflammatory medications.?