Frequently asked ankle surgery questions
When can I return to work?
Generally patients are able to return to desk work within the first 1-2 weeks after surgery although this depends on how the patient is feeling. If your work is labor intensive, you may be off for 6 weeks-3 months.
When can I shower?
You will need to keep the splint dry and intact until first post-operative visit. Until then, we suggest sponge bathing or wrapping the leg in plastic bags/tape in order to not get the splint wet while showering.
Can I put weight on my leg after surgery?
Most likely, you will be needing crutches and will not be able to put any weight on the surgical extremity for 4-6 weeks after surgery. If the surgery is a “clean out” procedure, generally you may begin putting weight on the extremity after first post op visit once the splint is removed.
Will I need a cast or splint?
Typically, you will be put in a hard splint after surgery for about 1-2 weeks. Once the splint is removed, we will place you in a boot.
How long will the surgery take?
All surgeries vary with regards to the extent of damage. Most ankle surgeries can be performed in a period of 1-2 hours.
Will I stay overnight?
Most surgeries are done outpatient, meaning you will go home the same day as surgery.
Am I asleep for the surgery?
Yes, your surgery will be performed under general anesthesia. Some surgeries are performed with sedation and nerve blocks to make your extremity numb during surgery and the early post op period.
What is arthroscopic surgery?
A minimally invasive surgical procedure in which a small endoscope (camera) is inserted into the ankle to perform surgical repair of damaged tissue. This often times is done through 2 or 3 portals (small incisions in the skin).
Will my surgery be open or arthroscopic?
Dr. Van Thiel is fellowship trained in sports medicine and arthroscopic surgery, therefore, the majority of ankle surgery is performed arthroscopically. Some ankle surgeries, such as ligament repairs, will require a larger incision and is not performed arthroscopically.
I had an MRI ordered, what can I expect?
If Dr. Van Thiel or Carly ordered an MRI of your ankle, once the MRI is completed we will see you back in the office which generally takes 7-10 days and review the results of your MRI and discuss the appropriate course of action at that time.
Will you pre-certify my surgery with insurance company?
Your benefits will be verified by our benefits department to make sure you are being scheduled at the correct facility. We will pre-certify your procedure with your insurance company if necessary.
Will I need pain meds after surgery?
You will be issued a prescription for pain medication after the surgery and is to be used on an as needed basis. You are able to take over the counter anti-inflammatories in place of the narcotic if this works for your pain. We advise that you do not take narcotics or anti-inflammatories prior to your surgery. PAIN medication refills will be issued from our office Monday-Friday between 8am and 3pm only. No refills will be issued on weekends.
What testing will I need prior to surgery?
Our surgery scheduler will contact you regarding appointments that need to be completed prior to surgery. These must be done within 30 days of your surgery. Depending on the type of surgery, your age and health, you may need clearance from primary care physician, and may need testing such as lab work, and EKG.
If my appointment is scheduled with Dr. Van Thiel will I see him on my first visit?
Upon your visit here you will be seen by Dr. Van Thiel and or his Physician Assistant Carly Jackson. Dr. Van Thiel and Carly work closely together so if you are not seen by Dr. Van Thiel on your first visit, you can be sure that he is aware and actively involved in your care
My MRI showed a tear and I’m having surgery, who do I contact?
If you are to schedule surgery, please call 815-381-7365 and speak to Jamie to select a surgery date and complete the necessary preoperative testing.
Who performs the surgery?
Dr. Van Thiel performs the surgery with the assistance of his Physician Assistant Carly Jackson.
Will I need to go to therapy after surgery?
Once you are seen in the office after surgery we will issue you a prescription for physical therapy. Therapy is done 2-3 times per week and lasts for approximately 3-4 months.
When can I return to sports?
Patients generally are able to return to sports in as soon as 8 weeks and as long as 6 months depending on the surgery performed. All cases vary and you may have an earlier return depending on the discretion of your physician.
Where will I do my therapy?
Therapy can be done anywhere that is convenient for you. We have a list of physical therapy offices that we routinely use and we can assist you with selecting one that is right for you.
When can I drive after surgery?
Patients should not drive or operate heavy machinery while taking narcotics. Normally patients are allowed to drive at 4 weeks post-op.
If I have questions whom do I contact in Dr. Van Thiel’s office?
Our team is here to assist you and make your surgical experience a pleasant one. Jamie is part of our staff and is here to aid with seeing patients in clinic and scheduling of surgery. Nicole will help you to find an office appointment that works with your schedule. If you receive a voice mail please leave a message and we will return your call as soon as possible.