How to Recover From Ankle Surgery

By Chad Buleen

golfer in mid backswing
Although ankle surgery can certainly hamper your ability to get back on the golf course, if you follow the recommended recovery procedures, you have a good chance to get back on the course within three or four months after surgery.

Recovering From Ankle Surgery

Difficulty: Moderate

  1. Use your walking device as directed. In most cases, you leave the hospital within a few hours after the surgery takes place. Your doctor may give you crutches, a walker or a brace to use. Follow the instructions in using the walking device the doctor recommends you use. Even if it seems as if you are able to walk without pain, do not attempt to do so until the doctor agrees that you are safe to walk without the device.
  2. Keep your leg elevated and take the pain pills as prescribed. Do not wait until you are in intense pain before taking the pills.
  3. Consistently use the cold-circulation unit you take home with you from the hospital. This unit will be located inside of an ice chest. When applied, it works to keep the area around your ankle cool. Before the unit can be used, you must add ice and water to the chest and connect the accompanying hoses to the device.
  4. Keep the surgical dressing on the foot. It should not be removed. If the dressing gets soiled or wet, call the doctor's office. In some cases, they will ask you to come in, so they can re-apply the dressing. It is normal to see some spotting; however, if the size of the spots enlarges quickly, call the doctor.
  5. Take all of the prescribed antibiotics, regardless of how you feel. Although you may be tempted not to take the antibiotics if you feel well, if you fail to take them, there is a risk that you could contract an infection that will be resistant to antibiotics
  6. Wear the wooden shoe that is given to you after the surgery. This shoe is designed to help keep your foot and ankle protected. Although the shoe does not need to be worn when you are sitting, you should wear it any time you are walking until the doctor recommends you do not need it any longer.
  7. Keep the physical-therapy appointments that have been set up for you. Only the physical therapist can tell you how hard you can push your repaired ankle. The therapist also can let you know which exercises will help you most. Because every foot and every ankle surgery is different, the advice of a physical therapist is important to finishing the recovery process and re-building strength.
  8. Take it slow your first time back on the golf course. Consider playing nine holes to start off with and gradually move up to longer courses as your strength returns.

How to Heal a Sprained Ankle

Sprained ankles are common injuries in games like soccer and football; however, they can happen in a game of golf, on a walk or anywhere else you can step wrong or stumble.


Difficulty: Moderately Easy

  1. Get a doctor's examination. Even if your ankle only feels a little tender, you may have broken bones in your foot without knowing it, so get it checked out to rule out serious injury. If you are in severe pain or can't move your foot, go to the doctor immediately.
  2. Go home, elevate and ice the ankle. Apply ice on the part of your ankle that hurts for twenty minutes at a time, four times a day for the first two days. For the first day, also keep your ankle above the level of your heart as much as possible.
  3. Wear a brace or a splint on your ankle and walk with crutches if it hurts to put weight on it. If your ankle is only slightly tender, still refrain from sports and walk as little as possible for two days to give it time to heal.
  4. Wrap an elastic bandage around your ankle and wear it for the first 24 hours. It should be snug but not tight enough to cut off blood flow. This will help stop swelling, but won't protect your ankle from injury, so you will have to wear a brace with it.
  5. Take NSAID painkillers such as aspirin for at least the first 24 hours. These will relieve pain and reduce swelling in your ankle.
  6. As soon as the swelling and pain decrease, start doing rehabilitation exercises. Sit in a chair and trace the alphabet on the floor with your toe as a way to exercise your ankle. Then plant your foot flat on the floor and swing your knee side-to-side while sitting. As soon as you can, gradually start to put more weight on your foot while walking until you can walk without crutches.

Tips & Warnings

  • Women who are on birth-control pills and take antibiotics need to find another method of birth control in addition to the birth-control pills until they have finished taking the antibiotics.
  • Call the doctor if there is a foul odor from the dressing or if your toes change in color.

About the Author

Chad Buleen is a Society of Professional Journalists-award winning newspaper and magazine writer and editor with more than 10 years' experience. He has been published in "Utah Spirit," "Charleston Gazette," "Idaho Falls Post Register" and numerous other publications. Buleen holds a Bachelor of Arts in communications with an emphasis in print journalism from Brigham Young University-Idaho.