Discharge Instructions for Ankle Arthroscopy

You had ankle arthroscopy, a surgical procedure that uses small incisions (cuts) through which the doctor inserts a tiny camera and tools that are used to locate, identify, and treat problems inside the ankle joint. These problems include loose pieces of bone or cartilage, bone spurs, osteochondritis dissecans (OCD), and synovitis. Below are tips to help speed your recovery from surgery.

Activity

  • Don’t drive until your doctor says it’s OK. Never drive while taking opioid pain medicine. 

  • Arrange your household to keep the items you need within reach.

  • Remove electrical cords, throw rugs, and anything else that can cause you to fall.

  • Use a cane, crutches, a walker, or handrails until your balance, flexibility, and strength improve, and you can put weight on your ankle. Remember to ask for help from others when you need it.

  • Follow weight-bearing instructions given by your doctor.

  • Use a backpack, fanny pack, apron, or pockets to carry things so you can keep your hands free.

  • As instructed by your doctor, do the exercises taught to you in the hospital.

Other home care

  • Take pain medicine as directed.

  • Use an ice pack or bag of frozen peas—or something similar—wrapped in a thin towel to reduce the swelling. Keep the foot elevated. Apply the ice pack for 20 minutes; then remove it for 20 minutes. Repeat as needed.

  • Move your legs and wiggle your toes often while resting to improve blood flow.

  • Avoid soaking your ankle in water until your incisions are completely closed and dried.

  • Take special care when showering. Follow your doctor’s instructions closely. Do the following, as instructed:

    • If you are told to leave the dressing on at all times, cover your dressing with plastic and tape it to your skin to or use several rubberbands to keep it dry while you shower.

    • If you are told to remove the dressing to shower, carefully wash your incision with soap and water. Gently pat it dry. Don’t rub the incision, or apply creams or lotions to it. 

  • Sleep with 2 pillow(s) under your knee and ankle. Keep your ankle elevated above the level of your heart when sitting in a chair or lying on the couch. This helps keep swelling down.

Follow-up

Make a follow-up appointment as directed by your doctor.

 

When to seek medical attention

Call 911 right away if you have any of the following:

  • Chest pain

  • Shortness of breath

  • Painful calf that is warm to the touch and tender with pressure

Otherwise, call your doctor immediately if you have any of the following:

  • An ankle splint, cast, or dressing that has gotten wet

  • Fever above 100.4°F (38.0°C) when taken by mouth, or shaking chills

  • Increased redness, tenderness, bleeding, or swelling of the incision

  • Drainage from or opening of the incision

  • A foot or toes that are pale, blue, or cool to touch

  • Increased pain with or without activity

  • Swelling in the foot, ankle, or calf that is not relieved by elevating the feet



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