Swelling is a natural response from the body in the wake of trauma or injury, and although surgery is a corrective procedure, it’s still a traumatic experience for your body. Because of this, you can expect to deal with some swelling following a corrective procedure. Swelling helps to bring white blood cells to the area and protect the foot against further injury, but if swelling lasts too long, it can actually slow down the healing process. Below, we share five tips for managing swelling after foot or ankle surgery.
How To Reduce Foot Swelling After Surgery
Here are five things you can do to reduce the amount of swelling that occurs following a foot operation.
1. Rest – Odds are you’ll have some weight-bearing restrictions after foot surgery, but regardless of the restrictions it’s a good idea to give your foot some short term rest to reduce swelling. Swelling is worst in the first 24-48 hours, and extra activity and stress on the area can lead to more swelling. Limit your activity for the first days after surgery, and follow your doctor’s weight bearing instructions.
2. Elevate – Another great way to limit foot swelling after surgery is to safely keep the foot elevated when you’re lying down. This way gravity works in your favor instead of against the lowest area of your body. Prop your foot up on a couple pillows when you’re in bed or rest it on the armrest of your sofa if you’re in the living room. This will help move fluid out of the area.
3. Compression – Compression therapy helps to restrict blood flow and swelling in the area. Use compression socks or elastic bandages to apply some light pressure to the area. Just be sure that you don’t wrap the area too tightly, because you don’t want to eliminate all blood flow to the area. Light to moderate pressure is a great way to help reduce swelling after foot surgery.
4. Cold Packs – Similar to compression therapy, cold packs or icing the affected area helps to restrict blood flow that can bring excess fluid to the area. Slowing down this blood flow works to limit the body’s natural inflammatory response to injury. Icing the area for 15-30 minutes a couple times a day after foot surgery can help to reduce fluid buildup in the area.
5. Anti-Inflammatory Medications – Finally, consider taking over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications to help with inflammation and swelling after an operation. Before starting an anti-inflammatory regimen, talk with your doctor to ensure they will not cause any issues with other prescriptions or painkillers you’re taking.