Call your surgeon or family doctor if:
- you develop a temperature higher than 38 C (101 F)
- you notice any change in the amount, colour or odour of drainage from your incision or a sudden increase in pain around the incision
- you notice increased pain, swelling or tenderness in the ankle area of either leg
- you notice that either leg appears pale or bluish in colour
- you notice that either leg feels unusually cool to the touch
- you suddenly have trouble walking
Full recovery after ankle replacement surgery usually takes at least six months, although in more complicated cases, recovery can take a year or longer. If your ankle pain and other symptoms are due to inflammatory arthritis, your recovery may be slower than average and/or you may be left with some degree of pain and/or disability.
The skin covering your foot and ankle, including the area over your incision, will remain sensitive for a while after your surgery. This means the skin could break down easily, which can sometimes lead to an infection. Try to avoid walking in bare feet or open-toed sandals to avoid skin breakdown.
Wearing the right shoes is important, both before and after ankle replacement surgery. Wearing proper shoes after surgery helps put the foot in correct alignment, ensuring that you walk properly—meaning that you don’t over-stress the new ankle joint or put extra stress on other parts of your body (your knees, hips and lower back).
Even if you purchased and wore special shoes and orthotics (shoe inserts) before surgery, as you recover you may find that the no longer fit in the same way. Ask your surgeon for advice. You should also avoid shoes with a heel higher than 2.5 cm, since higher heels place unhealthy stress on the ankle joint.