In the hospital after arthrodesis surgery, patients must stay reclined with the affected leg elevated above the level of the heart and not put any weight on it, according to American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society. Both pain pills and intravenous pain medication are generally administered to patients.
Fusing the ankle requires that the bones of the ankle heal together, and this takes between six and eight weeks, American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society says. In some cases, it can take between 10 and 12 weeks. Until the bones are healed, no weight whatsoever can be placed on the ankle. To move from place to place, patients use wheelchairs, walkers, crutches or knee scooters. Most people need help with daily tasks for at least the first two weeks after surgery.
After several weeks, with a doctor's approval, patients may begin putting weight on the ankle with the support of a walking boot. Physical therapy helps in reaching this point of recovery. After 10 to 12 weeks, recovery is usually advanced enough that the patient can walk without the boot. At this point, people can begin or resume a more active lifestyle. Ankle fusion does not totally immobilize the foot, and with the right shoes, a patient need not limp during walking or other activities.