How painful is it after foot surgery?
The short answer to this is that in most cases there is minimal or no pain after foot surgery. This was not always the case, and you may hear stories from people who have had their feet operated on in the past, who have been in pain for quite a while afterwards. It was also common for people to be in hospital for a while after foot surgery, but this is also not usually the case these days.
How is pain controlled during and after foot surgery?
1. Procedures that are done in our office
For minor operations that might be performed in our office (such as ingrown toenails, or removal of warts), we numb the part of the foot that is being treated with local anaeasthetic, which is administered via injection. This usually causes minimal to no discomfort. Once the affected area is numb, we can perform the procedure and the patient feels no pain at all. Post operative pain after such procedures is minimal and a lot of people need no pain medication after. For those that do, simple over-the-counter medicines such as ibuprofen (e.g. Nurofen) or paracetamol (e.g. Panadol) is all that is usually required.
2. Procedures that are done in hospital
Most people who have foot surgery in hospital choose to have a general anaesthetic, which is administered by a specialist anaeasthetist. Once the patient is asleep, we administer local anaesthetic to the foot so that there is no pain caused from the operation itself. This means that the anaesthetist usually needs to give less pain medication during the procedure.
Once the operation is complete, we administer more local anaesthetic as well as a short-acting steroid into the foot. The means that when the patient wakes up, the foot is numb and there is no pain. The numbness frequently persists for about 24 hours, and pain after this is usually mild. We tailor pain medication requirements on an individual basis per patient, but most commonly we send the patient home with an anti-inflammatory medicine and a pain medicine to use if necessary.
Most patients are surprised with how little discomfort they experience, even after substantial reconstructive procedures of the foot.
Your podiatrist or podiatric surgeon will discuss specific details and address any concerns you have when you come to see us.