Discharge Instructions for Ankle Arthroscopy

You had ankle arthroscopy. During this procedure, a healthcare provider makes small cuts (incisions) in your ankle. They then put a tiny camera and tools through the cuts to find, identify, and treat problems inside the ankle joint. These problems include loose pieces of bone or cartilage, bone spurs, osteochondritis dissecans (OCD), and synovitis. Below are tips to help speed your recovery from surgery.


  • Don’t drive until your healthcare provider says it’s OK. Never drive while taking opioid pain medicine. 

  • Arrange your household to keep the items you need within reach.

  • Remove electrical cords, throw rugs, and anything else that can cause you to fall.

  • Use a cane, crutches, a walker, or handrails until your balance, flexibility, and strength improve, and you can put weight on your ankle. Remember to ask for help from others when you need it.

  • Follow weight-bearing instructions given by your provider.

  • Use a backpack, fanny pack, apron, or pockets to carry things so you can keep your hands free.

  • As instructed by your provider, do the exercises taught to you in the hospital.

Other home care

  • Take pain medicine as directed.

  • Use an ice pack to reduce the swelling. Keep the foot raised. Apply the ice pack for  20 minutes, then remove it for  20 minutes. Repeat as needed. To make an ice pack, put ice cubes in a plastic bag that seals at the top. Wrap the bag in a clean, thin towel or cloth. Never put ice or an ice pack directly on the skin.

  • Move your legs and wiggle your toes often while resting to improve blood flow.

  • Don't soak your ankle in water until your incisions are completely closed and dried.

  • Take special care when showering. Follow your healthcare provider’s instructions closely. Do the following, as instructed:

    • If you are told to leave the bandage (dressing) on at all times, cover your dressing with plastic. Then tape it to your skin or use several rubber bands to keep it dry while you shower.

    • If you are told to remove the dressing to shower, carefully wash your incision with soap and water. Gently pat it dry. Don’t rub the incision. Don't use creams or lotions on it. 

  • Sleep with  2 pillows under your knee and ankle. Keep your ankle raised above heart level when sitting in a chair or lying on the couch. This helps keep swelling down.


Make a follow-up appointment as directed by your healthcare provider.

Call 911

Call 911 right away if you have any of the following:

  • Chest pain

  • Shortness of breath

  • Painful calf that is warm to the touch and sore with pressure

When to call your healthcare provider

Call your healthcare provider right away if you have any of the following:

  • An ankle splint, cast, or dressing that has gotten wet

  • Fever above  100.4° F ( 38°C) or higher, or as directed by your healthcare provider

  • Shaking chills

  • Increased redness, tenderness, bleeding, or swelling of the incision

  • Drainage from or opening of the incision

  • A foot or toes that are pale, blue, or cool to touch

  • Increased pain with or without activity

  • Swelling in the foot, ankle, or calf that is not relieved by raising your feet

© 2000-2024 The StayWell Company, LLC. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.
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