Managing Pain After Foot Surgery

Some injuries and foot conditions will require surgery. If your NYC podiatrist has recommended surgery, you may be concerned about post-op pain and what you can do to minimize the pain. This article will discuss the common reasons for post-op pain and how to manage it most effectively, including our MLS class 4 laser therapy option to reduce or even eliminate pain after foot surgery. 

Causes of Post-op Pain

Some pain after surgery is normal. The body has undergone a traumatic experience and your cells and nerves need time to heal. Inflammation is expected in the surgical site along with some pain and swelling the first few days after surgery as the tissues begin to heal. 

Bunion surgeries rank among the easiest to heal from, with most patients reporting 3/10 pain, while patients undergoing femur fracture surgeries face a harder recovery. 

When to Contact Your Doctor

Contact your doctor immediately if your pain continues to worsen and is accompanied by any of the following symptoms: 

  • increasing swelling
  • redness
  • warmth at the incision site
  • a fever 

These may be signs of infection and you should be evaluated right away. 

Pain Worse at Night? 

Some patients find that their foot pain is worse at night after surgery. This is usually due to increased pooling of blood in the feet at the end of the day. This is normal, but if you are concerned about it our staff in any of our NYC locations (Queens, Manhattan, and Brooklyn) will be happy to answer your questions. 

Managing Post-op Foot Pain

After surgery, you will first notice pain as the anesthetic wears off. Your doctor will prescribe pain medication for you to take for the first few days. After that, the pain should become more manageable. Talk to your doctor about a reasonable pain goal. For some surgeries, it is not realistic to expect pain to be completely masked by medication during the first few days. 

Pain Medication 101

Remember these basic rules of pain medication

  • Take the smallest dose of pain medication necessary for pain relief
  • Take the medicine as scheduled, do not skip doses. Keep the education at a therapeutic level in your blood
  • Wean yourself down to smaller doses as quickly as possible
  • Choose over-the-counter pain medication rather than prescription strength when possible
  • Remember that NSAIDs (such as ibuprofen and naproxen) are anti-inflammatory as well so they will help reduce inflammation and swelling, not just treat your pain
  • Always follow your podiatrist’s instructions regarding taking, changing, and stopping any medication

Other Pain Management Options

There are several non-pharmacologic options to help decrease your pain. 

  • Ice. Ice packs help reduce swelling and decrease pain sensation. Wrap an ice pack in a soft cloth and put it on your surgical site for 20 minutes at a time.
  • Elevate. Keep your foot elevated whenever possible.
  • Rest. Give yourself extra time to rest and follow your doctor’s orders on resuming activity.
  • Physical therapy. Stretches, massages, and gentle exercises under the supervision of a physical therapist have been shown to dramatically help with pain management after surgery.

Laser Therapy to Decrease Pain

At Best Foot Doctor NY, we utilize MLS class 4 laser therapy after surgery to help alleviate our patient’s pain. With this treatment, about a quarter of our patients report only mild soreness in the days following surgery. Laser therapy is an excellent option to manage pain after foot surgery. 

Reach Out Today

Surgery can be a daunting experience. But, experienced NYC podiatrists are available to answer your questions and help you make the best decisions for your care. Contact us at Best Foot Doctor NY today to schedule a consultation.

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