If you are one of the many people who have undergone foot surgery, you may be wondering why ice behind the knee after foot surgery. This is a common recommendation from doctors after the procedure.

In this blog post, we will discuss why you should ice your knee after foot surgery. We will also provide some tips on how to properly ice your knee, and care for your operated foot.

Before getting into why this is recommended, it is necessary to discuss the surgical procedure, and what to expect.

Day of Surgery

After you have checked in and changed into a surgical gown, the anesthesiologist will start an IV and administer medication to help you relax.

During any surgical procedure, anesthesia is generally used. There are multiple kinds of anesthesia including:

  • General anesthesia: This type of anesthesia puts you to sleep during the entire surgery.
  • Local anesthesia: Local anesthetic numbs the affected area where the surgery will be performed. A common type of this type of anesthetic is a nerve block.
  • Regional anesthesia: This numbs a larger area, such as your leg.

The type of anesthesia used will be dependent on the type of foot surgery being performed.

You will then be brought into the operating room and positioned on the surgical table. The foot surgeon will make incisions in your foot. Once they have access to the bones or other necessary soft tissue, they will realign them and then secure them in place with screws, wires, or plates.

After the bones or soft tissues have been secured, the surgeon will close the incisions with stitches or staples. A dressing will be placed over the incisions and you will be brought into the recovery room.

What to Expect After Foot Surgery?

After the surgery is completed, you will be taken to a recovery room where you will be monitored during the initial stages of the healing process. Depending on the type of surgery you may be required to have a bowel movement before being released home. Sometimes a stool softener is warranted in these situations.

During this time medical personnel will ensure the surgical site is clean, covered in an ace wrap, and your post-operative visits are scheduled

Once you are awake and stable, you will be able to go home. It is important to have someone drive you home as you will not be able to drive yourself.


First Week After Foot Surgery

The first week after your foot surgery is when a large portion of the healing will take place. During this time it is important to:

Take Narcotic Pain Medications as Prescribed: You will be given prescription pain medication for pain control. It is important to take this as prescribed. The medicine will help ensure you have less pain and also help you sleep.

Anti-inflammatory medication such as ibuprofen can also be taken during this time. These medications will help with pain and swelling.

Keep Surgical Site Clean and Dry: This means no showering, bathing, or putting your operated area in water until your doctor’s instructions allow.

Take Antibiotics as Prescribed: You will also be given antibiotics to help prevent infection.

Keep Your Foot Elevated: Keeping your foot above the level of your heart will help with swelling and overall blood flow. Try to keep your foot elevated when you are sitting or lying down.

Ice, Ice, Ice: Icing for 20 minutes at a time, multiple times per day. An effective way to ice your foot is with a cold therapy machine or an ice pack. More on icing below.

Wear Your Compression Sock: Wearing a compression sock will also help with swelling. Make sure the sock is not too tight as this can cause problems with circulation. Compression socks can also help prevent deep vein thrombosis.

Eat Healthy and Drink Plenty of Fluids: Eating healthily helps your body heal. Make sure to drink plenty of water as this will also help with the healing process.

Why Ice Behind Knee After Foot Surgery?

The most common reason why ice is recommended after foot surgery is to help with pain and swelling. Ice helps to constrict blood vessels which then decreases the amount of bleeding and inflammation.

So, why behind the knee? The reason for this is that, depending on the type of surgery, you will likely have a special shoe or cast that limits your ability to ice the foot directly. The blood vessels behind the knee supply the foot and are close to the surface which makes it easier to ice and achieve the desired results.


Icing Considerations

There are a few things to keep in mind when icing:

– Do not put ice directly on the skin, always use a barrier such as a thin towel.

– Do not fall asleep with ice on your body.

– Check your skin regularly for signs of frostbite.

Ways to Speed Up Recovery

There are a few things you can do to help speed up the recovery process:

Follow all of your doctor’s instructions: This includes taking your medication, icing, and keeping your foot elevated when stationary for extended periods.

Eat Healthily: Eating a healthy diet helps your body heal. Make sure to eat plenty.

Physical Therapy: Depending on your surgery, you may be recommended to start physical therapy soon after the surgery. A physical therapist helps to improve your range of motion and strength and ensures you can bear your full weight as quickly as possible. Physical and occupational therapy is very important to return to your normal activities.

Adaptive Equipment: Using adaptive equipment can help you return to your activities sooner. For example, a knee scooter can be used to help get around without putting weight on your foot.

Wound Care: Taking care of your surgical site is important. This includes keeping it clean and dry. Your doctor will give you specific instructions on how to care for your wound.

Final Thoughts

Foot surgery can be a daunting experience but following your doctor’s instructions and taking care of yourself during the recovery process can help make it a smooth experience. Be sure to ice appropriately, wear your compression sock, and keep your foot elevated to help with swelling. And finally, don’t forget to eat healthily and drink plenty of fluids!

If you have any questions or concerns be sure to talk to your doctor. They are there to help you through the entire process!

About the Author

Hi there! I’m Dr. Keagen Hadley, OTD, OTR/L. Straight out of the University of Mary, I’m all about blending my know-how in knee health, well-being, and medical technology. As a licensed occupational therapy doc, I’m here to translate complex concepts into clear, actionable insights – whether it’s knee care or groundbreaking healthcare tech.

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