How Long After Ankle Surgery Can I Walk (And Why)?

Exact Answer: After 6 weeks

One of the most common injuries that occur is ankle fracturing as a little twist, bending, or rolling the ankle could lead the bone to break. The ankle is an important part of our regular activities like walking, jumping, and running where one wrong move during these activities can take the joint to push too far. The ankle fracturing or sprain mostly occurs when an accident takes place or if you fall which twists the ankle.

Our ankle joint consists of the tibia and fibula. And there are one and two malleoli on the fibula and tibia respectively. The malleoli broke down due to which ankle fracturing occurs. You may try few other activities before opting for surgery and if nothing seems to work out, you could approach the surgeon for further necessary surgeries. 

How Long After Ankle Surgery Can I Walk?

Most ankle fractures do not need surgery. The doctor will choose surgery when the bone is not positioned properly, in an unstable situation, or if a part of the bone is sticking out of the skin (open fracture).  When the bones are unstable in the ankle (i.e.) in a shattered condition, they have to fix out surgically, with screws or necessary pins.  Every injury and infection takes its own time to heal. Similarly, you have to give your six weeks to get healed from ankle surgery.

  But when the tendons or ligaments are torn away, it might take longer than 3 months to cure completely. Immediately, after the surgery, your ankle should not be moved until few weeks as there is a chance for re-injury and the process will take longer. You will be recommended to wear a boot during this period, which may be a little uncomfortable at a few paces.

Most of the patients say that it takes nearly three months for them to improve the endurance and resume the regular activity as before. You will get a tentative schedule from the doctor regarding sports or other strenuous activities after various tests. After a fracture, you can wear the boot or cast for around 6 to 8 weeks, you can continue it for few more weeks if it supports your ankle. 

X-rays should be taken frequently until 3 months to know the recovery status of the ankle. People usually opt for ankle surgery when it is not cured by conservative means.  You will be given anesthesia before your surgery and incisions are made. Your pain after the surgery may be severe until three days and starts to subside significantly.

ActivitiesTime takes to heal
Wearing a Boot or Cast6 to 8 weeks
Walking, jumping, and runningAfter 6 weeks of surgery
Complete recoveryAfter 3 months

Why It Takes That Long To Walk After Ankle Surgery?

Doctors usually examine the ankle for either fracture of the bone or unstable damage in joints. When the joints are unstable, it is nothing but a sign of multiple fractures or a ligament injury. The main motive of surgery is to improve the functioning of the ankle for resuming activities in a better way. Usually, two joints are combined with the help of plates or screws due to which it becomes fusion and grow together.

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Initially, you could not put more weight on your foot, whereas during the second month, a limited weight can be added. You will be able to walk for a shorter distance after 3 months without any additional support. The motion of the unstable joints and the swollen foot reduces within the 6 months and you could see a significant improvement until a year than before the operation.

As the process of recovery and the time takes to recover differ for every individual, there is no issue if it takes longer than usual to recover or improve further.  In addition, if any other surgical experiments are done, the healing time varies from 6 months to one year. In very rare cases, side effects or risk of complications arise. 

You will be pre-informed in case of any risks. Doctors will ask for your preference before surgery.  During the recovery, if you stress the ankle joint more than advised, it can cause a new injury at the same point. In few cases, pain occurs even after healing of the soft tissue which is known as chronic pain. It can be reduced by a few prescribed medications.

Conclusion

There are few risks like infection or damage to blood vessels or nerves. In few cases, blood clots occur. Long-term side effects like weakness and arthritis may cause after ankle surgery.  If you have diabetes and have a habit of cigarette smoking, the risks may increase later in the future. You will be given an option of rehabilitation when the bones are healed. You can practice few stretches followed by exercises, to regain the strength of your ankle. 

Try to protect the ankle as far as possible, and ice can be used in the injury point for a speedy recovery.  To get rid of pain and swelling, pain relievers such as naproxen and ibuprofen could be preferred. If there is more complication in your surgery, you have to follow few aggressive measures.

References

  1. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.3113/fai.2008.1184
  2. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1046/j.1445-2197.2002.02530.x
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