My FHL Operation Story

I’m after advice from anyone who has been through an FHL transfer and the expected recovery.

Back in Nov 2012 I had a Coblation operation on my left Achilles tendon to rectify acute tendonitis after about 40 years of playing tennis and badminton, at club level standard. This operation was so successful I opted to have the right Achilles done in Nov 2014. However, this wasn’t as successful.

I had 4 weeks in an Aircast boot post op and it was when this came off that the problems started. It was a few days before Xmas 2014 and I turned in the bathroom and felt a slight tap in my calf area which resulted in my foot going all limp. I rang my regular physio who asked me to do several things to test my ankle. The result was that as I was able to walk within about 30mins of the incident it didn’t look like a rupture of the Achilles.

Christmas continued and I saw my physio a couple of days after Xmas, by which time I was walking without any issues. I’ve seen people snap their tendons when playing badminton and they generally don’t walk after a rupture. So it was looking good.

I continued to see the physio once or twice a week for the rest of Dec and Jan. In this time I had been hiking on trails up to 10 miles without any problems. Although my gate felt a little flat footed at times.

At the end of Jan I went to play in the snow in Seefeld, Austria and was able to get around and do what I wanted whilst there. One thing was walking up a steep snow covered slope to a mountain hut. An elevation of about 700m and walking for just over 1hr. Then tobogganing down. All still looking good.

I then went to see the Surgeon for a check-up in Feb. He didn’t think anything was seriously wrong but sent me for an ultrasound scan to see if it was a bad tear in the calf muscle and would set me back a bit. The ultrasound scan revealed that the tendon was badly ruptured and wouldn’t come back together.

So in March 2015 I was back in hospital to have an FHL Transfer operation, using my big toe tendon. The surgeon said that my tendon had shredded and he had to replace about 4-5 inches of it. I had the usual 4 wks in non-load bearing plaster, followed by 6 wks partial load bearing in the Aircast boot after that. When the boot came off I was under the physio to build up strength in the replacement tendon, with the usual Achilles stretches, but not the stair heel drops. During this stretching period of a couple of months I was never able to do uni-lateral heel lifts on my right leg. The surgeon said this was more than likely due to the reduced size of the replacement tendon.

I am now 8 months post op and still cannot do uni-lateral heel lifts, and in truth I am now struggling with doing any stretches pain free. The ankle always appears to be tight, although not usually directly on the tendon. I am also walking with a limp now as my ankle seems to ache continuously.

I’ve recently seen the surgeon after having an MRI scan done. He said that all appears as it should be and that there is nothing that can be done surgically. The scan showed nothing untoward.

I am now very frustrated. I was glad that I didn’t need to go through another op. However, I am very frustrated that the scan didn’t show any real issues.

Is there anyone out there who has gone through the same recovery, or lack of it. Am I just expecting too much too soon. Any advice greatly appreciated.

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