Arthritis in your ankles can obviously make it difficult to walk. Sometimes, it can become so painful that ankle replacement surgery, also known as total ankle arthroplasty, is recommended. Sometimes, an ankle replacement is medically necessary. As with any surgery, there is a risk of complications that patients need to be aware of, including infection, excessive bleeding, blood clots, and bone fracture.
If you are considering having ankle replacement surgery in the future, there are a few important things you should do in the weeks leading up to the day of the surgery, which will help to reduce your risks of complications. Here's what to do.
Stop Taking Certain Medications
In order to reduce your chances of bleeding profusely, you will need to stop taking any medications that make it more difficult for your blood to clot, such as aspirin and Coumadin. If you are taking blood-thinning medication, speak with your primary care physician or specialist who prescribed the medication to you. They may have you take an alternate medication temporarily and/or permit you to stop taking the medication and schedule you for regular checkups during the week or so you will be off of the medication.
You should also stop taking any natural supplements before your surgery. The reason for this is because natural supplements are studied as in-depth as prescription medication and, therefore, their side effects, if any, may not be well-known. Your podiatrist can give you a personalized time frame for when to stop taking medication and supplements.
Prepare Your Home
To make things easier on you and to reduce your risks of complications, it's important to prepare your home before surgery so you will be able to everyday things like bathe, use the toilet, and navigate stairs. A chair or stool for the shower or tub is necessary, but you'll want to be sure to try it out before surgery to make sure it is safe and suitable. When toileting, you may not be able to lower yourself far enough to sit on the toilet seat, so using a toilet seat riser with handles is ideal.
If you have stairs in your home that you will need to use, the safest way to navigate the stairs will be on your bottom, at least at first. However, you will need to figure out how you will pull yourself upright at the top and bottom of the stairs. If possible, install a vertical handrail at the top and bottom of the stairwell. Speak with your physical therapist for more ideas on how to prepare your home.