Frequently Asked Questions
- What do I do before my surgery?
- Why was my foot taped?
- Why was I given an injection?
- Why was I given a splint to sleep in?
- Why was I placed in a hard cast?
- Why was I given crutches?
- Why was I given a removable cast?
- Why was I given a prescription for pills to treat my pain?
- Why was I given a prescription for pills for my toenails?
- Why was I given a prescription for a cream to treat my skin and/or toenails?
Preoperatively, we sometimes do blood work to make sure your body is in good condition to recover. We also see you before the surgery to review your alternatives, the possible risks and complications, recovery, etc. We will also give you your prescriptions for pain and anti-inflammatory medicines. If your surgery is to be done under intravenous sedation or general anesthesia, you are to have no food or drink eight or more hours before surgery. That means no coffee, tea, etc. If you take medicines, be sure to ask us what to do about that before your surgery. Also, for sedation or general anesthesia cases, you are required to see your family doctor or internist before the surgery to get clearance. (Local anesthesia cases do not need this.) Arrive for your case 60-90 minutes early, depending on where it is being done. Be sure to wear lose fitting clothing to fit over your bandages. Arrange for someone to drive you home. Make sure your family, friends and neighbors spoil you rotten during your recovery!
Many times, foot pain is caused by abnormal mechanics or, simply put, the way your foot or ankle moves. Accordingly, in these situations, pills or shots only treat your symptoms since they don’t address the cause. When you stop the pills, or the shot wears off, the symptoms come back.
When we feel your problem is mechanical, we put tape on your foot to change the way it moves. If this relieves or temporarily resolves your symptoms, we can then feel confident that you need some type of support in your shoe to do the same thing. With the right type of support to change the way your foot or ankle moves, your injury can heal. Accordingly, be sure to pay close attention to when the tape felt the best or relieved most of your symptoms. We use that information to decide if you need custom or over-the-counter inserts or orthotics to treat your problem.
Swelling can create significant pain and lead to the breakdown of tissues. To expedite relief, a cortisone injection can help to reduce inflammation and break up adhesions or scar tissues that result from prolonged swelling. Most cortisone injections can take up to three weeks to reach maximum benefit.
Heel pain can be caused or aggravated by a tight heel cord (Achilles tendon). Splints can be used to stretch the Achilles tendon while you sleep. The purpose is to stretch this and lessen the strain on the bottom or back of the heel. Most studies show that these splints should be used for six weeks to obtain maximum benefit. While they can be uncomfortable at first, slowly increasing the time it is used usually provides benefit.
When tissues have been injured by trauma or surgery, movement can slow or stop healing. In these cases, we use a hard cast to protect the foot and ankle from movement and trauma. The cast must be kept dry and, in some cases, off the ground. Watch out for tightness, numbness, calf pain, or shortness of breath. These can be signs of trouble. Also, do not use sharp objects to scratch any itching you may get while in the cast.
Anytime an injury or surgery is significant enough to force the need to be non-weight bearing, we dispense or prescribe crutches. If you were given crutches, we let you know if any weight can be placed on the injured or surgical part. Compliance with those instructions is critical to a full recovery, as weight on a part that should be protected can slow or stop healing.
Technology has made life easier for us in many ways. We now have removable casts that can protect and allow healing with minimal disruption with our lifestyles. You were given a removable cast because your fracture, sprain, or injury needs some protection but not as much as that offered with a hard cast or crutches. Remove the cast to bathe, drive, or sleep. Otherwise, wear it all times so that you may return to your normal routine sooner than later.
Mild to moderate swelling and pain can be treated with anti-inflammatory pills. Take these regularly and at the dosage prescribed to obtain maximum benefit. Stopping early or taking the medication irregularly can lead to recurrence of your problem or unnecessary pain.
Fungus in the toenails is a very difficult problem to treat successfully. When the problem is significant enough, we use pills to kill the fungus. It is important for you to make sure we know the name of every medicine you are on to avoid interactions. It is also important for you to tell us if you get any side effects. The medicine kills fungus as it is incorporated into every new nail cell as they are made and from going into the nail from the skin beneath the nail. It has been shown to stay in your nails for up to nine months after you finish the pills, giving prolonged protection against recurrence. To help to make sure you have no internal problems from these pills, blood testing should have been done before you started and then while you remain on the medicine.
In mild cases of fungal infections of the skin and/or nails, or if pills are not in your best interest, we give topical medicines. Skin clears up very nicely with this, but may require four to six months of use as it takes 28 days to make new skin. Nails are much more difficult to treat with topical medicines as they have a difficult time penetrating beneath the surface. In these cases, we use the topicals to prevent spread or worsening.