Mon - Fri 8:00 AM - 6:00 PM
Bunion Clinic

Ankle arthrodesis

Post-Op Guide


Ankle Arthritis Surgery: Ankle arthrodesis (fusion)

Post operative orders:

Plaster backslab 2 weeks – this is applied in the OR. To be left intact – do not remove. Keep clean and dry at all times.
Elevate: as much as possible
Ice: at least 3 times per day 20 mins on, 20 mins off. Ice should not be directly contacting skin, or dampen the plaster.


Please keep the wounds with any dressings applied at the time of surgery clean, dry and intact.
The dressings will be changed at the time of first review in the office, 10-14 days post surgery.

Signs of infection: increased redness, swelling, malodorous discharge or persistent wound ooze, feeling unwell, fever. If these occur please contact the office straight away.


The boot/cast should remain on at all times but can be covered with a plastic bag to keep it dry.

Weight bearing status:

NON weight bearing for 6 weeks after surgery with crutches/knee scooter

6 week review – may be permitted to commence gradual, progressive weight bearing in boot over the next 6 weeks. This will be confirmed at time of review.

3 months – Transition to normal shoe wear. Gradually increase walking, light exercise


First 6 weeks: No exercises of foot/ankle whilst in plaster/Boot. May do knee ROM, quadriceps and core strengthening, upper limb and toe stretches.
6-12 weeks: stationery bike whilst wearing boot
12 weeks: swimming, non impact cardio, stationery bike, walking
Once the fusion is deemed united or healed, then gradual progressive reintroduction of activities will be permitted.
Driving: Casts and boots and strong pain medications can interfere with your ability to drive.
You must be able to safely operate the vehicle including the accelerator, brake and clutch pedals at all times and respond appropriately in the event of an emergency
When safely weight bearing without crutches; Minimum 12 weeks if the driving foot was operated on

Pain Medication:

Strong pain medication may be prescribed on discharge from hospital. In general this will not be required for >1 week. It is important to take pain relief as required to stay comfortable post surgery.
Change to simple pain medication when the pain has reduced e.g. panadol/ panadeine
No Alcohol or driving whilst taking strong pain medication Narcotics eg Endone are not prescribed in the office.

DVT (Deep Venous Thrombosis or blood clots) prophylaxis:
100mg aspirin daily whilst NWB 6 weeks OR other anticoagulation as prescribed

Commence physiotherapy:

6 weeks: gait retraining, Protected WB as above, core strengthening and upper limb program. Non impact exercise e.g. elliptical, swimming, stationery bike
12 weeks: may progress with gait retraining, generalised stretching/strengthening fitness program and progressive increase in Lower limb weight bearing exercises, stationery bike, swimming


Expected to decrease when elevated and gradually decrease over time May have persistent or intermittent swelling for up to 2 years post surgery


It is usually safe to travel short distances on a plane or car 1 week after surgery
You may experience increased swelling therefore try and keep the limb elevated
It is more difficult to get around the airport and plane. You will need assistance.
If there is any concern regarding DVT then air travel or long car travel is not advised. In general long haul flights should be avoided for at least 3 months post surgery.
Please take usual precautions for healthy travel such as elevation of the limb, regular movements of the limb and moving around the cabin, stay well hydrated and avoiding alcohol. Additional DVT prophylaxis may be required.
Please discuss any travel plans prior to your surgery

Follow up:

2 weeks – Office for wound review. Continue Non weight bearing in CAM Boot, including when sleeping.
6 weeks – Xray and decision as to weight bearing status in Cam Boot
12 weeks and 6 months– Xray


Please contact the office (during working hours) or attend your nearest Emergency Department with any concerns e.g. increased leg swelling despite elevation for 30 mins, pain in calf, chest pain, shortness of breath, wound ooze, increasing pain despite pain relief.

Happy Holiday

Dr Wadley and the Team at Salus would like to extend their warmest wishes for a safe and happy Christmas and New Year.

The office will be closed from 17:00 Thursday Dec 23rd and reopen Monday Jan 3rd 09:00. 

Please contact your GP or nearest Emergency Department for any urgent matters.