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How To Minimize Swelling After A Total Ankle Replacement

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Total ankle arthroplasty or total ankle replacement is a surgical procedure intended to alleviate pain and restore a healthy range of motion within the injured joint. Surgeons who administer this procedure use special care and attention to ensure its success, but it's largely up to the patient to ensure a smooth recovery. 

Poor recovery practices can cause severe inflammation around the surgical site, which can lead to incredible discomfort and even a decrease in the range of motion, pre-operation. Learn what measures you can take to minimize swelling after this procedure. 

Use Your Crutches

Once you are discharged from the surgical clinic, you will be provided a pair of crutches — it's very important that you use them until the surgeon gives you a release. Crutches keep you from applying too much pressure on your ankle while it is still healing. 

If you ignore the surgeon's instructions and try to walk without the crutches, the added pressure placed on the area will cause it to swell, and there is also a risk that you will prevent the replacement from settling properly. The crutches can also help keep you balanced while your ankle strength is restored, so it's important to use them for several reasons. 

Eat Well

Be mindful of your diet and avoid foods that promote inflammation within the body. High-fructose corn syrup, artificial trans fats, and refined carbohydrates when eaten in excessive amounts can cause swelling that can target every area of your body, including your ankle. Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol can be equally troubling. 

Try to keep your diet rich with fruits, vegetables, and meats that you have prepared at home. If you haven't had the procedure yet, use this time to pre-make some meals you can put in the freezer. If you've already had the procedure, ask friends and family if they don't mind starting a meal train to help you while you recover.

Keep the Foot Elevated

Whenever you sit for a long period, you should always have your foot elevated to a point above your heart. There is already a certain level of swelling that comes along with this procedure, but when your ankle is in a downward position, the swelling will be more intense.  

The best way to go about this step is to sit in a reclined position with several pillows propped under your knee. Remaining in this position during the days immediately after the procedure is very important.

For additional recovery tips, speak directly with your podiatrist for instructions.