Pain control for foot and ankle surgery
by Dr. Bryant Ho, November, 2018

1. How is my pain controlled during foot and ankle surgery?
With the assistance of a skilled anesthesiologist, pain during foot and ankle surgery can usually be well controlled with what is called regional anesthesia. This consists of using ultrasound to inject numbing medication around the major nerves of the leg. This allows complete numbness of the leg, which can last 1-2 days. This allows most foot and ankle surgeries to be done without the need for a breathing tube. Additionally, less anesthesia medication is usually required, which means faster recovery after surgery, and less side effects like nausea.

2. How is my pain controlled after foot and ankle surgery?
A regional block that is administered by a skilled anesthesiologist completely numbs the leg and can last 1-2 days. That means patients wake up from surgery with no pain for at least 24 hours. When the regional block wears off, the pain from surgery will hit quickly! That means you should have pain medication on hand to take as needed as instructed by your surgeon. Most patients will require pain medications for anywhere from 2-6 weeks after foot and ankle surgery.

3. What are the risks of a regional block? Every procedure has risks. The risk of a complication from a regional block are low, typically less than 0.1%. However, they do exist. There is an extremely small risk of temporary nerve damage. There have also been rare reports of permanent nerve damage. Ultrasound is a useful tool that allows anesthesiologists to see the nerves and avoid damaging them. In the hands of a skilled anesthesiologist, a regional block is a safe and effective tool to provide pain relief for foot and ankle surgeries.

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