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How to Reduce Swelling After Foot Surgery [7 Simple Tips]

Swelling and inflammation are your body’s natural responses to injury.

However, too much swelling and inflammation can slow healing, cause additional pain during recovery, and make it difficult to move. Learning how to reduce swelling after foot surgery will help you recover faster and get back to full mobility more quickly.

Following your doctor’s post-op procedures and adhering to these five simple tips on how to reduce swelling after foot surgery can help you recover and get back to everyday life faster.

How to Reduce Swelling After Foot Surgery

There are many different methods for how to reduce swelling after foot surgery and lessen pain. Here are some of the most effective ways you can aid your recovery.

1. Get Plenty of Rest

You probably don’t notice how much you put weight on each foot until you can’t anymore. Putting weight on your foot or using your foot after surgery is heavily discouraged because it will slow down your recovery and could cause further injuries. One of the best ways to reduce swelling after foot surgery is simply to get plenty of rest and keep weight off your foot so your body can heal.

Unless you want to spend a lot more time in recovery, you should always follow your doctor’s advice and stay off of your injured foot. While your doctor will give you specific advice related to your situation, a general rule of thumb is to stay off of your foot for at least a few days and then use an ambulatory device to get around until you are fully healed.

2. Apply Cold Therapy

Another great tip for how to reduce swelling after foot surgery is to apply cold to the area. Cold therapy restricts the flow of blood to the area by constricting blood vessels. This helps reduce inflammation by slowing blood flow to the area. Cold therapy can be applied using cold therapy systems, ice packs, cryotherapy chambers, or even ice baths. If you do choose to use cold therapy, only use it for 10-30 minutes at a time to avoid letting the area get too cold. Cold therapy is most effective during the first few days following your surgery.

3. Use Compression

Cold therapy in conjunction with compression can provide significant relief from swelling and inflammation. Like cold therapy, compression restricts blood flow and therefore swelling. You can use elastic bandages, static bandages, or even compression socks to apply pressure to the affected area.

If you choose to use bandages, make sure they are not too tight and adjust them as needed as the swelling in your foot increases and decreases. Compression socks are also widely available and offer even compression throughout the area of your legs, ankles, and feet. There are light, medium, and heavy compression socks to choose from, but starting with a light compression sock is recommended. Make sure you check with your doctor to see if compression socks are suitable for you after surgery.

4. Elevate the Injury

The next tip for how to reduce swelling after foot surgery is to elevate your foot above heart level whenever you are sitting or lying down. Because you will need to rest a lot the first few days after your foot surgery, elevating your foot will significantly reduce swelling. If you don’t elevate, fluid may collect in the foot and cause additional pain. Use comfortable pillows to make sure your foot is securely elevated.

5. Take Anti-Inflammatory Medication

Finally, using anti-inflammatory NSAID medications can help reduce inflammation and swelling from foot surgery. Make sure any medication you normally take doesn’t interfere with prescribed medications or over-the-counter medications you use for pain relief after foot surgery. Follow directions and use your anti-inflammatory medication as directed.

6. Practice with an Ambulatory Aid

As you prepare to undergo foot surgery it can be especially beneficial to practice using an ambulatory aid to help you get around after surgery. Getting some practice will help you feel comfortable and confident and will ensure your aid fits correctly. Practicing with your ambulatory aid is a great way to learn how to reduce swelling after foot surgery by helping you keep weight off your affected foot.

7. Use the Appropriate Mobility Device

Remaining compliant with your doctor’s post-op procedures during your non-weight bearing period is essential for faster healing. Non-compliance can also lead to re-injury, so you will want to carefully select the mobility device that is right for you. The three most popular types are:

Axillary (Underarm) Crutches

These are the most common types of crutches, but they come with some limitations. Users often report pain in their hands, wrists, and underarms and navigating stairs and uneven terrain can be difficult and dangerous. Because your hands and arms are used to support your body weight, they are unable to be used for other tasks.

Knee Walker

Also referred to as knee scooters, these devices work differently. Kneeling on a platform supported by a frame and four wheels, you steer yourself around while using handlebars, and propel yourself by pushing off with your good leg. It works much like a skateboard to get you from place to place. While knee scooters eliminate the pain associated with crutches, they have their own limitations. Knee scooters are heavy and bulky, cannot navigate stairs or tight areas, and require your hands and arms for steering.

Hands-Free Crutches

This new category of crutch works by recruiting your leg instead of your hands and arms. Much like a knee walker, you kneel on a platform; however, instead of wheels below the platform, the hands-free crutch has a strut and a prosthetic foot. These crutches are often referred to as a pirate leg crutch, and it allows you to walk freely, leaving your hands and arms free for other things. Hands-free crutches require average strength and balance to use and are not well-suited for those with other mobility challenges.

Finding the right mobility device is essential for a quick recovery to help you keep weight off of your affected foot. Make sure to follow your doctor’s instructions for recovery, and you should be back on your feet in no time.

Disclaimer: The information above is intended for informational purposes only and is not intended to prevent, treat, or diagnose any illness or disease. We aim to provide the highest quality information, so if you have any questions on the information above, we welcome your feedback!