apollo’s AchillesBlog






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May 24, 2013

May 11, 2013 — The Rupture

Filed under: Uncategorized — apollo @ 12:04 pm
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For me, like many others, it happened on the (outdoor) basketball court, making a simple move I’ve made a million times — spinning reverse tomahawk dunk.  Ok, just kidding, more like running after my own rebound after missing a jump shot (a move I truly have made a million times).  I’ve heard the incident described by some as feeling like a gunshot, kick to the leg, etc.  In my mind, it felt like some heavy random object had just landed on the back of my leg (airplane part?!), I let out a primal scream, and then just went down, knowing something very, very bad had just happened.

Went to the ER, got the initial diagnosis that it looked like a complete Achilles rupture and then, of course, started googling “achilles tendon rupture.”  I think the first thing I read was the wikipedia page.  And, soon after, I found this tremendously useful website.  I think, for me, the biggest shock of all was the amount of recovery time needed for this injury.  I knew it was a big deal, but half a year to a year?!  Ugh, that took a while to sink in.  Looking back, I definitely went through the stages of grief, starting appropriately enough with DENIAL.  I can probably still go with my family on our planned trip to Europe in 6 weeks, right? (Response 3 days later from surgeon: Europe will be there next year.)

Got the surgery 3 days later, on May 14th.  And now I’m waiting for my first post-op visit, scheduled for May 29th.

More about the incident:  I didn’t stretch before playing.  I hadn’t played in a few weeks (–I normally play around 2 times a week).  I don’t otherwise exercise regularly, although I like to play tennis and swim, which I do only occasionally.  I’m 37 yrs old.  I was wearing basketball sneakers that have an unusual strap inside the shoe that wraps around the ankle, ostensibly to guard against ankle sprains.

One thing I’m pondering:  even if I hadn’t taken that triggering step on May 11, was this likely going to happen to me anyway?  I understand it wasn’t inevitable in the sense that I could have been a better stretcher, a regular exerciser, etc.  But assuming I had continued along my path of being a 1-2 times a week basketball player who was not good about stretching, was this likely to happen a week, month or year from now?  Had my tendon deteriorated in some way that made this a likely outcome?  Or is it more random than that?  Because there are plenty of people like me (weekend warriors!) who don’t rupture their achilles tendon.  In fact, the vast majority don’t.  So, I’m just wondering if this was a random unlucky alignment of variables that caused my tendon to snap that particular day, or if my tendon was particularly susceptible to injury because of deterioration (i.e., that this was going to happen to me sooner or later anyway).  Anyone have any thoughts on that?

And before I sign off on this initial post, just want to say thanks to all those out there who have shared their stories, their setbacks, their triumphs, their knowledge…  It helps to know there’s a community out there going through, or having gone through, the same thing.  And it’s an incredibly effective way to learn.

6 Comments

  1. Welcome, Apollo. Sorry to hear about the injury. You raise some good questions but I’m not really sure anyone knows the answer for sure. I did yoga 5-6 times a week up to my injury and look at me now (with my pretty blue cast.) Anyway, just chiming in to say hello. Looking forward to reading about your progress.

    Comment by kellygirl — May 24, 2013 @ 12:33 pm

  2. Apollo,

    I had tendinitis in the affected achilles prior to being injured. It was painful to stretch and stiff. Unfortunately, I ignored the symptoms and had a complete ATR. This seems to be a classic precursor for others that have experienced an ATR. I will definitely be mindful of symptoms in the future. Improper running gate can lead to chronic tendinitis. Therefore, if you had tendinitis, it may be worth having a PT view your running gate (when healthy). They can provide feedback to improve your gate and prevent tendinitis and future ATR’s.

    Comment by kingb — May 24, 2013 @ 1:14 pm

  3. Most ATR patients DON’T have prior AT problems, maybe 1/3 do. Stretching doesn’t seem preventative, and many elite athletes in perfect shape get ATRs. Even warming up does little or nothing, and many of us did it at the end of a strenuous session, totally warm if not hot!

    There’s obviously a predisposition to it, based on the much elevated risk of getting one on your OTHER leg. (Sorry!) In the first 2-4 years (study linked from the Protocols & Studies page here — look for “contralateral”), ATR patients had ~200 TIMES higher risk in the other leg than “normal” people. And several of us here “did” the other AT later, too. Mine took 8 years, several 11s and a 15 have posted here.

    Some say it’s bad circulation that makes a malnourished “dotted line” for us to “tear on”. The mechanism is still mysterious, but it obviously exists. Being a couch potato or switching to golf might postpone or prevent — or you might just postpone until you get an ATR in the retirement home. Is that better? Some do switch to golf etc. after their (1st) ATR heals, but many of us return to the high-ATR-risk sports like your basketball and my volleyball.

    Comment by normofthenorth — May 24, 2013 @ 2:15 pm

  4. Thanks for the comments and good wishes. Just read through the “contralateral” paper — ugh, not what I wanted to see. I’m just starting down the path of recovery for this first one, and the thought of having to do it again is already more than a little frightening. Not sure what I’ll decide as far as playing basketball/tennis again (looks like I’ll have plenty of time before I need to sort that out!).

    Comment by apollo — May 24, 2013 @ 7:57 pm

  5. Apollo, we are on the same track. Tore mine on 7 MAY grabbing a rebound and pop. I had Surgery on 14 May and yesterday 24 MAY stitches came out and boot went on. Boots at 90 degrees with a 2 CM heel lift NWB. I did order a VacoCast off the internet after a friend of mine recovered so quickly using it, so Ill post when I get the ole girl!

    Comment by sfce — May 25, 2013 @ 2:56 pm

  6. SFCE– Looking forward to that first post-op visit. Interested in hearing how you like the VacoCast. My doctor is planning to give me a traditional boot and I’m trying to figure out whether I should suggest the VacoCast instead. In any event, the clear lesson here: we should no longer be going for rebounds!

    Comment by apollo — May 26, 2013 @ 2:43 pm

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