Heel Cord Lengthening Care

Your orthopaedic doctor has recommended that your child undergo a heel cord lengthening to improve the position of his or her foot.

Most children are able to go home after heel cord lengthening surgery. Your child will come back from surgery in a short leg weight bearing cast, which goes from the toes to the upper calf. The cast will remain on for three to six weeks.

Your child will be given a prescription for pain medicine. A muscle relaxant may be prescribed for spasms or "charley horse" pain for the first two days. Ice may be used on the outside of the cast at the calf level.

Before you go home, a nurse will teach you how to take care of your child and the cast. Excessive swelling of the toes, drainage through the cast or excessive pain should be quickly reported to your orthopaedic doctor or the orthopaedic clinic nurse.

When your child returns to the orthopaedic doctor's office, the cast is usually removed and your child's skin examined. A brace, called an ankle-foot-orthosis, or AFO, may be ordered. If this brace is recommended, you will be given a prescription to have the brace made by an orthotist. Your nurse or physical therapist will discuss where to take the prescription to have the brace made. The brace molding may take place in the operating room shortly after the heel cord lengthening or in clinic at the time of the cast removal.

How to care for your child and the AFO will be discussed with you by the clinic nurse. The back of the cast may be used as a temporary brace until the AFO is available / ready.

Your child may not be able to walk very well immediately, and may have a limp for a while after the cast is removed. Physical therapy may be ordered by your doctor. Usually four to six weeks after the cast has been removed, you will have an appointment with your orthopaedic doctor.

To reach the orthopaedic nurse before 4 pm Monday through Friday, call 513-636-4567. After 4 pm and during weekends and holidays, call 513-636-4200 and ask for the orthopaedic resident on call.


Last Updated 08/2013