Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
OUR ONLY FOCUS – THE FOOT AND ANKLE
The foot and ankle area is one of the more complex of the human skeletal system. The orthopedic surgeons at Austin Ankle Associates specialize in treatment of the foot and ankle – exclusively.
Austin Ankle FAQs
- What are your hours of operation?
Our hours are 8:00 am – 5:00 pm, Monday through Friday.
- What do I need to do if I need to reach a physician after regular business hours?
Please contact Med Link at 512-323-LINK(5465), and they will contact the Austin Ankle Associates on-call physician.
- What if I have a question after surgery?
If you have a question during regular business hours, call Austin Ankle Associates at 512-225-6335 and a medical professional will take a message for the physician. You will receive a response the same day. If you have a question after regular business hours, call Med Link at 512-323-LINK(5465), and they will contact the physician.
- What should I do about medication refills?
Contact your pharmacy regarding refilling a prescription. They will notify the physician of your request. A member of our medical team will notify you of the status of the request. Austin Ankle Associates does not authorize refills of narcotic pain medication after regular business hours.
- What is an orthopaedic surgeon?
An orthopaedic surgeon is a medical doctor who has received up to 14 years of education in the diagnosis, treatment, rehabilitation and prevention of injuries and diseases of the musculoskeletal system (bones and joints, muscles, ligaments, tendons and cartilage).
Some orthopaedic surgeons practice general orthopaedics, while others specialize in treating certain body parts such as the foot and ankle, hand and wrist, spine, knee, shoulder or hip. Some orthopaedists may also specialize in certain areas such as pediatrics, trauma or sports medicine.
- What is the difference between an orthopaedic foot and ankle surgeon and a podiatrist?
The foot and ankle area is one of the more complex of the human skeletal system, and obtaining expertise in this region of the body requires years of training, education and practice. It is important to know the difference between a podiatrist and an orthopaedic surgeon who specializes in the foot and ankle if you are seeking care for a foot and ankle problem.
One of the most significant differences between the two is the level of training each completes. A foot and ankle orthopaedic specialist completes 4 years of undergraduate school, 4 years of medical school, a 5-6 year orthopaedic surgery residency and an additional year of subspecialty foot and ankle orthopedic fellowship training. As a medical doctor, an orthopaedic surgeon who specializes in the foot and ankle has a better understanding of the entire body, including bones, muscles, ligaments, tendons and joints, as well as medical conditions that may affect your overall health. Through this training, an orthopaedic surgeon intimately understands the impact that the entire body can have on a foot and ankle condition.
Podiatrists attend undergraduate school, a 4-year podiatry school and an optional 2-4 year residency thereafter. As such, podiatrists are not medical doctors (MDs). While orthopaedic surgeons and podiatrists both may treat foot and ankle problems, the orthopaedic foot and ankle surgeon is qualified to address a more complex level of problems.
Podiatrists typically treat ingrown toenails, calluses, fallen arches, heel spurs, deformities of the feet and some common foot and ankle injuries. They can provide important treatment for foot problems related to diabetes and other systemic illnesses. Orthopaedists also treat heel spurs, fallen arches, foot deformities and injuries but are trained to manage the full spectrum of problems involving the bones, muscles, tendons, ligaments and soft tissues of the foot, ankle and lower leg. Your orthopaedist will determine the root of your problem and prescribe medications, physical therapy, bracing or surgery to correct it.
- What is physical therapy?
Physical therapy is the treatment of musculoskeletal and neurological injuries to promote a return to function and independent living. Physical therapy incorporates both exercise and functional training. Exercise restores motion and strength while functional training facilitates a return to daily activities, work or sport.
- What is a tendon? A ligament? Cartilage?
A tendon is a band of tissue that connects muscle to bone. A ligament is an elastic band of tissue that connects bone to bone and provides stability to the joint. Cartilage is a soft, gel-like padding between bones that protects joints and facilitates movement.
General Injury Treatment FAQs
- Should I apply ice or heat to an injury?
Ice should be used in the acute stage of an injury (within the first 24-48 hours) or whenever there is swelling. Ice helps to reduce inflammation by decreasing blood flow to the area in which cold is applied. Heat increases blood flow and may promote pain relief after swelling subsides. Heat may also be used to warm up muscles prior to exercise or physical therapy.
- What is a cortisone/corticosteroid injection?
Cortisone is a steroid that is produced naturally in the body. Synthetically produced cortisone can also be injected into soft tissues and joints to help decrease inflammation. While cortisone is not a pain reliever, pain may diminish as a result of reduced inflammation. In orthopaedics, cortisone injections are commonly used as a treatment for chronic conditions such as bursitis, tendinitis and arthritis.
- What are NSAIDs and how do they work?
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are non-prescription, over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) and naproxen sodium (Aleve). They are popular treatments for muscular aches and pains as well as arthritis. Post-operatively, if your surgery involved a fracture or any work done on the bones, you should not take NSAIDS, as they can delay bone healing.
Initial Office Visit FAQs
- How do I schedule an appointment?
You may call our office at 512-225-6335, and if you have to leave a message, our appointment setter will contact you to confirm your date. To reschedule or cancel your appointment, please call our office at the earliest possible convenience.
- What forms do I need to complete prior to my appointment?
Please print out and complete the Patient Questionnaire form and bring it with you to your appointment.
- What medical reports should I bring?
Please bring the following to your appointment: all relevant x-rays, CTs, MRIs, list of all medications, insurance card, referring doctor’s name and past medical records including operative reports pertaining only to your foot and ankle.
- Is my insurance accepted at Austin Ankle Associates?
Please review Insurance Providers accepted by Austin Ankle Associates.
- Do I need to do anything special the day or night before surgery?
Someone from the surgery center or hospital will call you to discuss pre-operative instructions. These usually include the following:
- Do not eat or drink anything, including water, after midnight the day of your surgery. You may brush your teeth, taking care not to swallow any water.
- Follow your doctor’s orders regarding the taking of any medications the night before or the day of your surgery.
- Refrain from smoking after midnight the day of your surgery.
- Notify your surgeon if there is any change in your physical condition, such as a cold, fever or flu symptom.
- If there is a chance you are pregnant, please notify your surgeon immediately.
- When should I arrive at the hospital/surgery center?
Arrive promptly at the time specified by the surgery scheduler. If you are having surgery at an outpatient surgery center, you will usually be asked to arrive two hours before your scheduled surgery. Times may differ if you will be admitted to the hospital prior to surgery. Most pre-operative blood, lab or paper work is performed prior to the day of your surgery.
- What should I wear the day of my surgery?
Bathe or shower the morning of surgery but do not apply any makeup. Wear low-heeled, comfortable shoes and loose, comfortable clothing such as t-shirts, button-down shirts, sweat pants or baggy shorts that will fit over bandages or dressings following surgery. Do not wear contact lenses or jewelry.
- How long will surgery take?
The length of surgery depends on the procedure being performed, the surgeon, and the method of surgery (e.g., minimally invasive arthroscopy or a more-invasive, open incision).
- What kind of anesthesia will I receive?
The four main types of anesthesia include general, regional, monitored and local. The type of anesthesia you will receive is influenced by one or more of the following factors:
- The kind of surgery you are having
- Estimated length of the surgical procedure
- Your overall medical condition and health status
- Medications you currently take
- Your surgeon’s preference
- With general anesthesia, you are completely asleep and unconscious with total loss of sensation.
With regional anesthesia, the anesthesiologist injects you with an anesthetic to provide numbness or loss of pain or sensation to the area of the body requiring surgery. The injection is made near a cluster of nerves and is called a “nerve block”. The most common type used for foot and ankle procedures is called a “peripheral block”. You may remain awake and alert or be sedated. Often, a peripheral block is placed pre-operatively for pain control after the surgery is over. If this is the case, it is often done in conjunction with general anesthesia.
If you are sedated during regional anesthesia, then you receive monitored anesthesia care, also known as MAC sedation or twilight sleep. Monitored anesthesia care involves the administration of drugs to produce sedation and analgesia (insensibility to pain without loss of consciousness). In addition, your surgeon will administer local anesthesia to the operative site.
Local anesthesia is an injection that provides numbness to a small area and is used primarily for minor surgery. It is often administered by the surgeon and does not require the presence of an anesthesiologist.
You will meet with your anesthesiologist prior to surgery and will have an opportunity to discuss your anesthesia options. Your anesthesiologist will inform you of the advantages, side effects and possible complications of each. Depending upon the factors above, you may be able to participate in the decision-making and choose which method you prefer.
- How long will I stay in the hospital/surgery center?
The time you spend in the hospital or surgery center will vary depending upon the type of surgery performed, the type of anesthesia that was given and your individual needs. If surgery is performed in an outpatient surgery center, most patients are discharged within one to three hours after surgery.
- What are the most common complications of orthopaedic surgery?
Most patients will not encounter problems after orthopaedic surgery. As with any surgery, however, there are potential risks, including: reaction to anesthesia, bleeding, infection, blood clots, nerve damage, lack of full range of motion, development of arthritis, scar formation or re-injury of the joint or soft tissue.
- Which medications should I stop taking prior to surgery?
Your surgeon and anesthesiologist will determine which medications you should stop taking before surgery, when they should be stopped and when you can resume taking them after surgery.
Click here for a more detailed list of medications to avoid before surgery.
- Which pain medications will I receive after surgery?
Most commonly, you will receive a prescription for Norco. You may take 1-2 tablets every 4-6 hours as needed for pain, and you are expected to take less and less of this pain medication over time and be completely off of narcotics after four to six weeks.
After one week, you may request a new Norco prescription of a lesser quantity, as it is expected that you will not need to take them as frequently. Refills will not be addressed at nights or on weekends. Please plan ahead, because we can only address refills during normal business hours.
Click here for important cautionary information regarding use of Tylenol/acetaminophen and anti-inflammatory medications.
- What happens after surgery?
You will be taken to the recovery room and monitored for a period of time. After that you will be taken to a holding room (if in an outpatient surgery center) or to a patient room (if you have been or are being admitted to the hospital).
If your operation is outpatient, a nurse will review post-operative home care instructions with you, as well as explain any special instructions provided by your surgeon regarding diet, rest, medications, when to follow up with your doctor and how to use any durable medical equipment (such as crutches) that your doctor may have ordered.
When you follow up with your doctor, your doctor will discuss additional post-operative instructions such as rehabilitation, when stitches may be removed, when you can drive or return to work or school, how long you should use crutches, walker, roll-about, boot, or shoe, how long you should take pain medications and more.