Many conditions of the foot respond to conservative treatment or to palliative measures (to relieve discomfort). When the doctor feels nothing more can be done with conservative therapy and the patient is becoming . . . well, impatient, at his or her lack of progress, they may discuss surgical treatment. Our doctors in DeSoto, Dallas and Sunnyvale are skilled in surgical procedures for a variety of disorders.
No matter what the condition— whether bunions, flat feet (posterior tibial tendon dysfunction), hallux rigidus, osteoarthritis, hammer toe, plantar fasciitis, or other foot problem— the patient has responsibilities as well as the doctor. Here are a few things for the patient to keep in mind:
- Let the staff know about all medications and supplements you are taking— even ones as seemingly benign as garlic. Some substances can react with the anesthesia you are administered during foot surgery. Others may enhance bleeding or slow the healing process. Even if we have all of your information in the system, please comes prepared with a list of your medications.
- For the best surgical outcome, quit smoking and avoid alcohol for at least one week prior to your surgery. Both these substances contains powerful drugs that can impair healing, or cause accidents, falls or confusion. Smoking increases your risk of a heart attack or lung impairment during surgery. Stop taking any diet drugs you might be using; don’t try to lose weight just before your surgery. Eat a balanced, healthy diet, with a multivitamin supplement and Vitamin C tablets.
- After surgery, make sure you have someone to drive you home or arrange for someone to call for a taxi. Depending on the type of surgery, you may be able to place weight on the foot— or you may not. If you can’t rest your weight on the affected foot, we’ll arrange for crutches, a wheelchair or an orthotic shoe. If you receive the equipment before the day of your surgery, it’s a good idea to practice using it at home.
- Any bandages, splints or casts must be kept dry to avoid the risk of infection. You can take a shower using several layers of garbage bag taped at various lengths around the leg. Or you can purchase a leg protector at a medical supply store or drug store. If you’ve been told not to put weight on the foot, move a plastic chair into the shower or take a sponge bath until the doctor clears you for showering.
How Are Things at Home?
Before the date of your foot surgery, you can arrange your house so it is safer for the post-op patient. Pick up any throw rugs that might get entangled in crutches or cause the patient to slip. Do some shopping and cooking in advance, and stock up the freezer for two weeks’ worth of meals. While you are at the grocery store, pick up some ice packs to apply to the surgical site. Bags of frozen peas and corn work equally well; just refreeze them after use.
If you live in a two-story home, you might want to move your bedroom downstairs temporarily. Keep a flashlight and telephone handy near your bed. A pile of pillows at the foot of the bed might offer relief if you need to elevate the foot at night. Find clothing that is easy to slip on and not restrictive.
You might want to apply for a temporary disabled parking permit. Even though you will probably not be allowed to drive for a few weeks after foot surgery, your driver will appreciate the courtesy of parking in a handicap space, and you’ll have less distance to hobble.
If you have any kind of infection, it may be best to postpone the foot surgery. Let the doctor know if you have a urinary tract infection, cough, fever or flu, tooth or gum pain, skin rash or colored sputum.