Foot Ankle Surgery

Personal Preparation for Surgery

This category of preparation relates to your personal preparation and participation in surgery, recuperation and healing. We suggest actions you can take as you prepare for surgery, and activities you can plan to help expedite your recovery.

The Basics

Understand the basics of your body, the effected part, the procedure being done. Similarly, understand that your body’s innate ability to heal is indeed influenced by your attitude toward as well as your participation in your recovery.

It’s understood that no two patients are alike; everyone is an individual. That being said, certain actions routinely produce certain outcomes. Even if you feel you are not in ‘the best shape’ it is never too late to take positive action for your body and doing so will enhance your recovery. This involves proper nutrition, exercise and a positive mental approach to the forthcoming surgery.

We believe in the body’s magnificent healing properties and we encourage you to supplement your recovery plan in such a way that you heal – expeditiously. Of course, the various injuries and surgeries have their basic and respective timelines. That being said, by using an integrative approach to recovery, and drawing upon other healing modalities you can indeed enhance your recuperation time.

Your Surgery is an Opportunity

Once again, rather than focusing on this time as a ‘disruption’, we encourage you to view it as a pause from the regular rhythms of your life and an opportunity to make changes that will effect you positively in the days, nights, weeks, months, and years ahead. It is a perfect time to lay a new foundation.

4 Elements for You to Consider:

  • The Injury Or Condition
  • The Process Of Repair – Surgery & immobilization of the affected part
  • The Necessary Rest Period
  • Rehabilitation

The Injury Or Condition – an injury is a wound; it is an insult to your body’s normal state of integrity and flow. It initiates varying levels of stress in different individuals. Occasionally the injury occurs where there is a pre-existing vulnerability or weakness such as with an Osteochondral lesion. Other times that is quite clearly not the case and the injury is the direct result of an accident of some type.

The Process of Repair – Surgery

Pre-operatively - Make whatever provisions you need to make so that you have the items and care you need during the initial post-op phase. In this way your ‘mind’ is at ease. Secure the care and support you will need. Make sure you have the basic groceries and items you rely upon as well as any medications pre-prescribed by Dr. Kennedy. Identify the things you’ll want at your fingertips and arrange for their easy availability and access. You may want to rent the DVD’s, get the books & magazines or identify ways you’ll be able to enjoy the idle time. You may need to move your bed to the ground floor. Think it through, and make whatever preparations you need to make. This will enable you to rest well and freely during the initial phase of your post op period.

The Procedure
- Dr. Kennedy outlined the actual procedure for you. You will have either a local or general anesthesia. Once the procedure is over you will either spend time in the recovery room or in a designated post-operative area.

The Necessary Rest Period Post-operatively

Accept that this is a Time to Heal - The word Heal comes from the old English word haelan meaning ‘to make whole and well’. Some common synonyms for heal are ‘restore, repair, renew, revivify, regenerate, rejuvenate mend, pull through, improve or get better.’ While these are all very obvious points, in glossing over them, we can easily overlook the inherent responsibility in the word heal which is actually a verb. Verbs imply ‘action,’ even if that action is ‘passive.’ We’re not suggesting that you “DO” healing or “WORK” yourself into a ‘healed’ condition. We are however, recommending that you prepare your body and tend to it post operatively with proper rest nutrition and physical therapy. Eat well, rest well, drink plenty of water; avoid caffeine, alcohol and cigarettes.

What to Expect Afterward - Your body’s bone and tissue have been moved by the surgery procedure. At one end of the spectrum this in and of itself will produce atypical sensations and at the other end of the spectrum, there is post op pain. You will have pain medication to manage any initial discomfort.

Pain Management - The medication will take care of the pain and will most likely make you drowsy.

Rest - Give yourself carte blanche permission to relax and abstain from the regular rhythms of your life - Rest. Sleep. As with “heal”, Rest and Sleep are verbs and to engage with them effectively you need to participate. How? The medication should help. But if you find it difficult to rest, you can aid the process by simply giving yourself permission. For the days immediately following your surgery, let go of ANY AND ALL expectations to complete tasks or projects or work. Rest defined means – to gently abstain from stimulation, movement, activity, stress and worry. As you rest, the body can focus all of its innate intelligence and energy on the surgical site. While recovery may seem like a long time, when you realize the scope of what is being done and the opportunity our renewed ability offers us for optimal health and wellness, it is time well-spent.

General aches and pains – Some people experience a generalized soreness or aching muscles, which is often the consequence of being sedentary. On one hand, this demonstrates how movement and exercise support your body’s basic needs for increased levels of oxygen. Stiffness or generalized muscle aches are the result of in-activity. You can assist your body by adopting a gentle routine of slow stretching and movement – to the NON-effected areas of the body. This will facilitate the body in releasing excess fluids as well as prompt the body to release any toxins normally released during exercise or movement.

Start with some slow / gentle movements of the non effected parts of your body. Gently roll your head; move your shoulders, arms, and hands. Condition permitting, gently twist your torso just enough to loosen up the muscles of the abdominal cavity. Drink plenty of water; this will help your healing in many ways – from flushing the system to providing the metabolic support for joint lubrication. Eat oxygen rich foods – leafy greens, fruits, veggies.

Utilize alternative healing modalities - Simple logic - if YOU are not moving very much, employ a modality that assist your body in circulating its fluids and meeting its goals and needs for circulation. Blood is responsible for oxygenating you tissue. Normal activities of daily living – (walking, making the bed, ascending / descending the stairs), all these simple activities normally assist us in maintaining a good metabolic process. When you’re not weight-baring and not moving as much, you’ll expedite your recovery by taking the help of Healing disciplines that promote good circulation of your body’s oxygenated blood for you. Massage of the back, neck, arms and torso is acceptable. Massage circulates the body’s lymph drainage and helps the body to detoxify. Acupuncture opens up essential channels of energy that get blocked by any one of a number of things – trauma, inactivity, toxicity, and stress to name a few.

DO NOT MASSAGE THE LEGS – If you opt to have massage, avoid massaging either or both legs until you have clearance from your doctor.


It is absolutely true that in nearly every case, a period of absolute rest and passivity is required, but that period is fairly short. Each patient is an individual with his and her own history and there are general trends in recovery that can be referenced as basic barometers.

As we mentioned earlier your body has been sedentary - working at a slower metabolic pace. As you start to work with the physical therapist you may feel a bit weaker than prior to surgery. The Physical therapist is working from the doctor’s prescription for your care, and should be able to gauge your ability to progress. Work steadily and pace yourself. True Healing occurs when periods of work and rest are proportionately balanced.

Expect miracles but by all means work within what is reasonable for your age, weight, overall health and place in the timeline of your recovery. Do not OVER-DO anything. You are the only one who can assess your progress. Dialogue with the physical therapist.

Come for your follow up visits. In this way Dr. Kennedy and his associates can assess your progress and recommend any adjustments you may need.

Keep an eye on your attitude. Pain is a barometer. It can indicate whether you’re doing to much or to little. At best it tells you when you’re doing ‘too much too soon.’ An athlete can tell you that he / she works consciously with pain; it informs their training. Too much would leave them fatigued. Too little and they’ll never build the stamina needed to win.

A good attitude will expedite your recovery. If you find you’re un-able to maintain a positive state, seek the support you need from family, friends and if need be – by a professional. The body is inextricably connected to your emotional and mental states. If negative feelings go “un-checked” they can magnify the normal aches and pains that are typical in the recovery process. It is not a reflection on you if you feel frustrated. Most people experience varying degrees of frustration at some point in life. You simply need to counter the feeling with a positive action. Otherwise you may compromise the rate of your recovery.

In summary - Some Very Basic Principles for Recovery

  • Prepare
  • Rest
  • Hydration – Drink water
  • Oxygenation – Breath deeply
  • Circulation – when the time is right - move as per Doctor Kennedy’s direction

We wish you the very best for a healthy recovery!!!

© John G Kennedy MD Foot & Ankle Surgeon New York Sports Medicine New York
Sports Medicine NY
Broken Ankle Surgery, Bunion Surgery, Ankle Pain
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