Swollen Ankle after Anterior Hip surgery

Posted by vivuscraig @vivuscraig, May 31 12:13pm

I had surgery 7 days ago. My swelling has been minimal. I have been walking and doing exercises. I have been applying ice and keeping my feet above my heart when not moving.

Yesterday, during a friends visit, I sat in a regular chair for 2.5 hours. After the visit my surgical leg and ankle were very swollen. After icing and elevating in the evening and overnight, the swelling did decrease some.

However, after doing just a little activity today, my ankle balloons up again. I am elevating and icing but the ankle is very slow to respond.

Is this normal? Should I avoid activity while it is swollen? Thank you in advance.

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Swelling is normal after major surgery, and one week is very early days in recovery. UNLESS you develop a hot, painful or red area, which may be a sign of a blood clot, you can do some self-care and see if it resolves. If this develops call the doctor immediately or go to the ER.

From my own experience in hip replacements (5 of them) the tendency is to "feel pretty good" and slack off on icing & elevation. I know that most literature recommends icing "20 minutes, 3-4 times a day." Here is my personal experience – if you ice pretty much full time, whenever seated or lying down, for the first month, you will not see the swelling. Also, especially for the first month, whenever you sit for more than a few minutes (like to eat a meal) your leg should be elevated.

Remember, your body has been assaulted. Never mind the promotions saying "anterior is easier" – you have still had skin, muscle, nerves and bone either cut or moved around – they are NOT happy. The fluid and swelling is your body's response to the assault, a reminder that all is not healed.

To get the swelling down, elevate your leg above your heart & ice – it may take up to 48 hours to calm down. Then follow the icing/elevation guidelines above. While swollen, if someone can massage the elevated leg, "pushing" the swelling from foot toward your groin, it may help get things moving. Don't quit walking unless your doctor tells you to – just make sure you get that leg up whenever you are not using it.

If the swelling doesn't go away in a couple days of doing the elevation & icing, call your doc.

Are you noticing any improvement today?
Sue

PS After my first hip replacement, I went back to work at 4 weeks, tried to keep the leg up at my desk, and even used my ice a few times a day. But I went home swollen every night for the first month. After the second operation, I worked from home weeks 2-6, so I could stay elevated. It was a much better plan!

REPLY
@sueinmn

Swelling is normal after major surgery, and one week is very early days in recovery. UNLESS you develop a hot, painful or red area, which may be a sign of a blood clot, you can do some self-care and see if it resolves. If this develops call the doctor immediately or go to the ER.

From my own experience in hip replacements (5 of them) the tendency is to "feel pretty good" and slack off on icing & elevation. I know that most literature recommends icing "20 minutes, 3-4 times a day." Here is my personal experience – if you ice pretty much full time, whenever seated or lying down, for the first month, you will not see the swelling. Also, especially for the first month, whenever you sit for more than a few minutes (like to eat a meal) your leg should be elevated.

Remember, your body has been assaulted. Never mind the promotions saying "anterior is easier" – you have still had skin, muscle, nerves and bone either cut or moved around – they are NOT happy. The fluid and swelling is your body's response to the assault, a reminder that all is not healed.

To get the swelling down, elevate your leg above your heart & ice – it may take up to 48 hours to calm down. Then follow the icing/elevation guidelines above. While swollen, if someone can massage the elevated leg, "pushing" the swelling from foot toward your groin, it may help get things moving. Don't quit walking unless your doctor tells you to – just make sure you get that leg up whenever you are not using it.

If the swelling doesn't go away in a couple days of doing the elevation & icing, call your doc.

Are you noticing any improvement today?
Sue

PS After my first hip replacement, I went back to work at 4 weeks, tried to keep the leg up at my desk, and even used my ice a few times a day. But I went home swollen every night for the first month. After the second operation, I worked from home weeks 2-6, so I could stay elevated. It was a much better plan!

Jump to this post

Thank you Sue for the very complete and thoughtful answer. I was surprised at having so little swelling and then after sitting without elevation for a couple hours, I have significant swelling in leg and ankle.

The swelling has not settled down as much as I would like. I will take your suggestions to heart and hopefully see decreased swelling over the next day or so. I will continue my walking and hospital exercise regiment.

I have been doing so amazing and I was shocked that after only a brief period of not elevating my leg, things fell apart. I won't let that happen again. 🙂

Thanks so much,
Craig

REPLY
@vivuscraig

Thank you Sue for the very complete and thoughtful answer. I was surprised at having so little swelling and then after sitting without elevation for a couple hours, I have significant swelling in leg and ankle.

The swelling has not settled down as much as I would like. I will take your suggestions to heart and hopefully see decreased swelling over the next day or so. I will continue my walking and hospital exercise regiment.

I have been doing so amazing and I was shocked that after only a brief period of not elevating my leg, things fell apart. I won't let that happen again. 🙂

Thanks so much,
Craig

Jump to this post

You are welcome. Just treat yourself like a fragile flower for a couple weeks. You will heal better and be far ahead of the curve later. Do you have anyone who can massage your leg to get the fluids moving?
Sue

REPLY
@sueinmn

You are welcome. Just treat yourself like a fragile flower for a couple weeks. You will heal better and be far ahead of the curve later. Do you have anyone who can massage your leg to get the fluids moving?
Sue

Jump to this post

My wife massaged my leg last night in bed. She pushed in the way you suggested. I slept with a pillow under my feet to elevate them some even in bed. I am now more aware that having sitting without elevating my legs is a no, no.

Swelling is still thee this morning but less. This is day 8, I am able to walk short distances without any assistant device. I am walking about 3 times a day outside . Yesterday, I was able to do my first walk without my cane (.6 miles).

I continue to do the strength stretching exercises from the hospital. There are a couple of stretches that are challenging my range of motion. My bad hip limited my range of motion significantly . Reclaiming it is a challenge.

Thanks again for your help and interest.

Craig

REPLY
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