Normal Postoperative Symptoms
Swelling (edema) and bruising, mild to moderate pain, bleeding, numbness, itching, and scarring are all normal postoperative symptoms. A detailed explanation of each is below.
Swelling and bruising are common postoperative symptoms. Swelling is your body’s way of healing the surgical site. Swelling comes and goes through the entire postoperative period and can last six (6) months to a year.
How to Diminish Swelling and Bruising-
- Elevation- Elevate your operated foot above the level of your heart. Stabilize your foot by putting a soft pillow underneath your heel.
- Ice- Apply an ice bag to your foot or ankle. Cover your foot or ankle with a towel and apply the ice to the towel. The towel will minimize the effects of the cold. Keep the ice on or above the operative site for 20 minutes; then take the ice bag off for 20 minutes. Repeat this on/off pattern for the first 24 to 48 hours after surgery, as tolerated. After 48 hours, ice as needed for pain and swelling control.
Mild to moderate pain is normal after surgery. More pain is expected after bone surgery than it is after soft tissue surgery.
How to Diminish Pain-
Prescription Pain and Anti-inflammatory Medication- You will likely be given two (2) medications:
1) Norco: A narcotic that is used to inhibit pain signals in the body. This will likely need to be taken the first night to help you fall asleep. It is best to start this medication within 4-5 hours after surgery when you begin to feel a tingling sensation at the surgical site, as this is a sign that the sensation (and pain) is returning to the foot. Most patients do not need to take this medication past two (2) or three (3) days.
2) Nabumetone: A non-steroidal anti-inflammatory. This is NOT a narcotic. You should take this medication twice a day with food for two (2) weeks starting immediately after surgery. This will help with pain and swelling.
Elevation and icing (see above)
Limit activity as directed by Dr. Siegel
Small sensory nerves to the skin surface are cut when the incision is made or are interrupted by undermining of the skin during surgery. The sensation in those areas gradually returns, within 3 to 6 months, as the nerve endings heal spontaneously.
Mild Itching and occasional small, shooting electrical sensations within the skin frequently occur as the nerve endings heal. This is normal as the skin heals. Ice, skin moisturizers, range of motion exercises, and massages are typically helpful.
As the incision site heals, a scar will form. All new scars are red, purple, or pink. Some people are prone to more scarring than others. Typically scars on the feet tend to fade completely within 6 months; however, patients prone to hypertrophic scars (keloids) may never see a complete fading of the incision site.
Abnormal Postoperative Symptoms
The following symptoms or findings should be considered serious. You must contact the office immediately if you experience any of the following symptoms:
- Heavy bleeding
- Unrelenting pain not relieved by medication
- Dressing becomes saturated with blood or
- Rash or extreme itching
- Fever, chills, nausea, rash, shortness of breath
- Unrelenting calf pain
If the surgical site has been injured or bumped into, please contact the office immediately.