cbrauchli’s AchillesBlog

Rupture is a scary word

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Some Background (My First Rupture)

November 25th, 2020 · No Comments

I am a 31-year old male and this is my second Achilles’ tendon rupture (different sides). My previous rupture was when I was 29, on my right side. I’ve always been fairly athletic, so it surprises me to have had two ruptures already. I’ll never know the exact cause, but I suspect it’s a combination of bad luck and a period of around 6 months that I completely stopped exercising due to a badly bruised heel, then getting back into sport too quickly.

My first rupture happened playing ultimate frisbee. I was cutting, so I changed directions rapidly and that’s when it happened. I thought I stepped on an empty disposable plastic water bottle someone had left on the pitch. After a couple of steps, and seeing how flat and wide my foot looked in the shoe, I realized something had happened to my Achilles’. A teammate, who was a physiotherapist, did a Thompson test on the field and that confirmed what we suspected.

I went to the emergency room, where they put a cast on and told me to come back a couple of days later to see the orthopedic surgeon. When I did, he suggested conservative treatment and changed my cast for a lighter fiberglass one, which I kept on for three weeks. At this point I’d read enough on this blog to feel that conservative would be fine.

My right leg never got back to 100%, maybe 75%. I have significant weakness at full plantar flexion. I can’t say exactly what went wrong, but I suspect the conservative treatment we took was too conservative at the start and too fast later. After three weeks in a cast, my calf was much smaller and felt like jelly. I got a VACOped boot and wanted to get doing physical quickly. Every time I adjusted the degrees, it was quite painful.

My orthopedic surgeon wasn’t very attentive and just told me the pain was normal. I wound up getting frustrated and going to a different hospital to see a different orthopedist. They took an MRI, confirmed a small re-rupture and gave me some heel lifts for two weeks. It made all the difference. My Achilles healed, but my leg remains weak, two years later. I am not sure if it healed long or it can be helped with more physical therapy. Now that I have a second rupture, I guess it’s an opportunity to compare healing and also get some more time with a therapist on my previous rupture.

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