My Story

Good morning,

I am a 40 year old very active male (Basketball, Golf, Running, young kids, etc). I tore my right Achilles on 2/18 playing basketball which I recently picked back up. I went to plant and felt the all to common feeling that I was shot in the back of my ankle. The pain was excruciating but not as bad as my mental state of knowing what had just happened and the long road that lies ahead. A conference trip to Arizona canceled. A spring break trip to Florida….currently on the ropes. Two young toddlers that will be devastated if we don’t go. Golf season possibly down the tubes. All that was difficult to digest to say the least.

I was lucky enough to get in for surgery the following morning (2/19) to get it repaired. I have been in a caster splint since then and managing to get around mainly with a scooter and crutches at times. Certainly an adjustment to my lifestyle to say the least. I go back in tomorrow for them to remove the splint, take the staples out, and go from there. Initial plan was a cast for 4 more weeks and a boot for 6 weeks after that before I can start any type of official PT. As far as pain goes, really haven’t had any since the surgery with the exception of my calf muscle being very tender. I believe the cause of that was stretching my legs during the night and tweaking that muscle. I’m finding the timeline of 12 weeks before I can start PT a bit hard to swallow especially after reading many posts on this site where folks are starting much sooner. My appointment tomorrow may reveal new information and a quicker timeline. I will do whatever the Dr advises but I’m also very stubborn, don’t like asking for help, and will push the boundaries of what’s acceptable as long as I’m not having pain.   Patience is definitely not my strong suit and can’t wait to get back out to play with my kids.  It’s been a bit of an emotional roller coaster and I have to remind myself to stay positive and think long term and that it could always be worse.

I’ve found this site very helpful and encouraging to know I’m not alone in this journey.  I know it will get better!

12 Responses to “My Story”

  1. Hi ckoutny,
    I agree. 12 weeks is quite a long time to start PT. You might want to press you doc to start sooner and ask for the reasoning on why starting so late.
    I had to wait until week 10, though i was prescribed at week 8, just because of a short staffed clinic.
    Good luck tomorrow with the doc appoint.
    Heal strong..!!

  2. Update from Dr today:

    Took the splint off and everything looked pretty well. Surgeon decided to take the stitches out and was planning to put me in a cast for 4 weeks. I told him about the pain in my calf of bad leg. With the way things looked, he felt there was zero chance that was a blood clot but ordered an ultrasound just to be safe. Because of that, he decided to put me in a boot with 2 wedges. Went for the ultrasound not expecting to see anything. Low and behold a small clot was starting to form. Took me by surprise as I’ve been very active since day 2 out of surgery and very rarely have I been sitting with it propped up. At any rate, I was glad to detect it early and hoping the blood thinner they have put me on will take care of it.

    Back to the actual Achilles and recovery. I will go back in about 4 weeks for a checkup. At that time he said I’ll start putting weight on it so it will be almost 6 weeks post op. Will need to be in the boot for another month or so after that but will be bearing weight and doing PT on my own until week 10 or so when I start going to a professional. So encouraging news on that front. One day at a time….

  3. Welcome to the Boot Clan, ckoutNY! ;-) The boot is not perfect, but it is much better than a cast. And I’m very glad you caught the blood clot in time!.
    We have lots of posts on how to best use your boot in the coming weeks, and strategies for all sorts of activities at home. :-)
    Good luck!………. Manny

  4. Hi ckoutny,

    I’m in the same boat as you. I’m 36, don’t have kids, but I was fairly active, playing floorball (like floor hockey) and ice hockey 2-3 times a week. I started up basketball on 2/16 and lasted 20 minutes before it snapped. It was a full rupture, “exploded” was the term the surgeon used.

    From my research, it seems post op recovery protocols do vary a lot, with pros and cons of each, and also vary depending on how many visits your insurance covers. I was put in a splint cast with ace bandage after surgery, but had PT every day for the first 7 days, and now it’s 3x per week until late May. My insurance covers 45 visits per year. The PT right now is very basic, and they keep an eye on the incision to make sure PT is not hampering the healing of the opening. After a week, it stopped leaking and is looking and feeling good. At PT, they mostly move my foot around, getting all the small toe and foot bones moving, and stretching me back to neutral or 90 degrees, and then I do three types of leg lifts to keep the quad in some semblance of shape, as atrophy of the quad and calf will occur.

    I have my 2 week appt on Tuesday, where they’ll take the staples out.

    Anyway, good luck!
    Tom

  5. Thanks for the reply Tom. Sounds like they have you up and going quickly. If you don’t mind me asking where are you located? I am in Iowa. Just over 2 weeks post op and am in a boot. Things feel pretty good to the point I am putting some weight on it already. Hoping that continues. Sounds like at my 6 week I will be putting almost full weight on with a boot. But the difference I’m hearing is my surgeon is saying I won’t start PT until week 10 or so and you have already started. Crazy that can be so different….makes me think the are guessing.

    Chad

  6. I’m in Alaska. My PT is just me lying down the table and them working my foot/ankle. No weight bearing until week 6. I’m in a boot at all other times, I only take it off to ice. Since mine was completely ruptured, I don’t plan to test out any weight bearing until week 6, as those fibers need time to heal together. Bummer, but as everyone says, this type of injury just takes patience.

  7. Sorry you had to join our club, Tom. But at least we can support each other. I’m glad you are getting PT already and that you are in a boot. I was non surgical and got the boot after 2 weeks. Just one comment: as I understand it, the fibers we have after six weeks, are mainly scar tissue, and the scar tissue is slowly replaced by tendon cells as we use the tendon… That is why the boot is so magical: it promotes proper healing of our tendon. :-)
    Good luck in your recovery, and read our posts. We have a few hard core athletes here, and they give great tips on accelerated strength recovery after having surgery.
    Happy Healing!……….. Manny

  8. Just adding to everyone else, from what I’ve read it takes a full 4 months for all the tissue healing and tissue rebuilding to complete itself after an ATR. The actual muscle strength is an individual thing and what PT helps the most with. The longer the wait the worse the muscle can become but it’s important to give it the time it needs to heal too. It’s and individual balancing act between doctor, pt, you and your tissue. ;-) Hope it all goes well for you

  9. Thanks Manny. Can you point out a few posters who give tips on accelerated strength recovery?

    Tom

  10. mannys a better poster but to get you started beanie has some awesome posts on calf muscle exercises.

  11. Thanks!

  12. Tom and others - It is probably worthwhile to read up on how tendons heal. New tendon tissue in the form of Collagen type III is laid down after the initial injury. It is not really scar tissue but it is not organised or strong. The inflammation repsonse is important for this process. After 3 weeks your tendon is joined and then it needs incremental work to encourage tendon remodelling. This is when the good collagen type I begins to be laid down. Early weight bearing in the boot starts this process but for surgical patients it is not as critical as non surgical. Partial weight bearing at 4 weeks is considered normal and full weight bearing is common. Waiting to 6 weeks is also common but any longer becomes counterproductive in my view. The good tendon tissue aligns with the direction of force and you need this force to encourage it. This process will continue for some time and strength will increase even up to 2 years but usually by 12 months it is mostly back in order. On my page (Xplora) there is a tab for further reading where you will find links to early weight bearing studies and how tendons heal. Some things are a bit scientifiic in nature and not everyones flavour but worth a read. There are lots of great stories here but one I would recommend is Ryanb. He no longer visits but his pages are worth reading.

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