ATR recovery, step by step

3 Years Later - “What Injury?”

Greetings all, and if you are reading this you are probably in the club that none of us wanted to be in. Anyway, I’m three years out and I thought you might appreciate hearing that rupture is now a distant memory. I’m a 54 year old male, in reasonable shape but not exactly a marathoner, and I’ve returned to all activities, including technical ice climbing (really hard on achilles), hockey and downhill skiing. While I don’t think my involved calf is quite as strong, I don’t perceive any difference in activity or day to day. I just have a little stiffness in the morning, that’s about it, and I almost never even think about my achilles these days. To those of you starting your journey, I wish you the best of luck and I’m one more example that it does get better–much better. Good luck with all of your recoveries, and thanks to all that have contributed to this blog. It was a huge resource for me early, a less important (but still important!) resource later, and even now a good reminder of a time when I needed to know that there were better days ahead!

One Year, all good!

I am an athletic 52 year old male, ruptured a year ago tomorrow, had the repair, and am back in business. It was definitely a slow process, but looking back it was easy to see progress. I am back to running, backpacking, kayaking, basically anything I could do before (except for being a foot model, as I have a lot of scar tissue!).

I was FWB at day 35, in a boot through week 12, and really didn’t hit my stride with full activity until about the nine month mark. But it did get back to 100%, so no complaints!

Thanks to all that chimed in during my recovery, and I wish all of you the best in your recoveries!

~10 months post-op

Thought it might be useful to some of the new folks (sorry you are in the club) to share out what things look like for me closing in on ten months. I am a 52 year old male, very athletic (hockey, kayaking, hiking, etc), nearly 10 months post-op for a full ATR rupture (surgery March 17, 2015). I was NWB for 30 days, FWB at day 35, in a cast for six weeks and a boot for another six. I was released from PT after seven months.

That all seems like a long time ago now, although I sympathize with those of you that are early stages. Each day got better for me, exponentially so early on, but more gradually later. A brief journal really helped me gauge progress and celebrate small victories, just a sentence or two each day or maybe once a week.

Now I am back running short distances (~2 miles), hiking 5-8 miles on relatively easy (and sometimes hard) terrain, easy kayaking, and am going backpacking next week (probably just a short trip, 4 miles or so each way).  ROM is excellent, though my calf still gets tired and I have trouble pushing off when tired. I’m also still sometimes going sideways downstairs (although I’m often barefoot, which might be part of the reason for that).

I started doing single leg calf raises around 7 months or so, but not very many. I’ve focused on dual leg raises, doing at least 100 a day, and that has helped with strength in my calf. My OS told me that the ability to do solid single level calf raises was the gating factor to hiking and fuller activity, so I focused on that a lot.

Looking back, the knee bike was a critical part of my game, as was a shower chair, a shower bag, and a lot of patience. I was told early on that there are no shortcuts, and I suspect that is true. The good news is that all of the protocols pretty much converge at a year. I took the long view and I’m glad I did, as re-rupture was something I desperately wanted (and want) to avoid.

This is an awesome community. I wish I wasn’t a part of it, but I’m glad all of you are out there lending support. I wish all of you good luck in your recoveries!

8 and a half months, running again

I had surgery on 17 March and it’s been a slow but steady road since. But now I’m starting to forget more and more about my injury, and was able to run for the first time since I got hurt. That to me feels like full recovery, even though I still have some strength to regain.

My tendon still looks very thick, but range of motion is there and I’m able to do full single leg calf raises now. I do get tired sooner on that leg, but even that is starting to fade away. I’m also able to hike on rough trails again, and am going backpacking for the first time next month.

Hang in there, everybody. I’ve appreciated your support and information during my recovery and I hope to continue to support your recoveries, too!

6 months post-op, moving right along

I hit six months yesterday post-op after a right ATR and celebrated by walking six miles. My foot does still swell here and there, especially after walking on uneven surfaces, but I am generally without a limp and able to bike a lot and hike on trails a little bit. I saw a guy at PT who is eight weeks post-op and was reminded of how far away that seems now. I gave him as much encouragement as I could, as I remember those days well (and some of you are in the midst of them now, I know!). It does feel like things are starting to move faster, and I often forget about the injury now, an encouraging sign.

Next week I plan to go whitewater kayaking for the first time…it will be mentally tough, I think, but physically I’m given the green light by my OS and PT.

Everybody hang in there and try to stay positive!

23 week post-op, things are starting to move faster

I’m now closing in on six months at the party and things are starting to move faster. I had surgery for a full rupture on March 17 and was in a cast for six weeks and a boot for six weeks, a very conservative protocol. That said, it’s starting to ramp up nicely for me.

I can do one-legged negative calf raises no problem, and am now able to get my heel off of the ground in a single-legged calf raise. I do about a million two-legged raises a day, as that is my primary limiting factor.

I’ve been biking 25 miles or so with no issues, and walked five miles this past weekend, followed up with a four mile walk tonight. I did have to rest for about 10 minutes towards the end of my five mile hike, but otherwise no problems and no swelling. The only thing that is tired, ever, is my calf, although I’m sure I’m still building up elsewhere, too.

It’s been good to follow along with all of your collective successes; keep up the good work, and I look forward to the other side of recovery!

PT explains my limp, 20 weeks post-op

I am at 20 weeks post-op, but still have a very slight limp. I have excellent ROM so it was puzzling to me until I asked my PT. He explained that the limp is not due to ROM, but due to the fact that I don’t have the strength to push off with my calf. Time to double down on heel raises.

18 weeks post-op update

I am 18 weeks post-op tomorrow, with routine surgery (for my OS, not for me!) on March 17 for a complete rupture. In my last post I was asking about swelling, and an MRI did reveal that I have a small new rupture. The swelling came on after a painless but awkward step.

The good news is that the new tear is small, lateral (not transverse, and not at the repair site), and will heal on its own in 4-6 weeks from the injury (which was back in late June). Best of all, it did not create any new restrictions on PT or activity..although it did take about a week for the swelling to subside.

I still have a big knot at the repair site, which will probably never go away, and have another smaller knot of scar tissue at the attachment point to the calf muscle. That said, I biked 18 miles yesterday and am walking about 95% normally. PT is proceeding well, but I can’t do a single heal lift yet.

Not as lightning fast as some of you, but trying to listen to my body and to avoid future setbacks.

Wishing all of you speedy recoveries!

Week 14, swelling question

I had surgery March 17 for a complete rupture and got out of the boot at week 12. PT is going well, can’t do single calf raises yet, but building that way. Still have a slight limp, and have a lot of scar tissue built up at the repair site.

Two days ago my foot began swelling pretty dramatically, not just at the repair but really the whole foot. I’ve been active and was in sandals with no heel lift…but didn’t expect this. I took an awkward step the same day it started, but there was zero pain associated with that step and it was more of a side step than what I would expect to affect the tendon. Then yesterday I biked 10 miles, no problem.

I’m treating with ice and ibuprofin but hasn’t gone down much. Has anybody else experienced this? I’m leaving Tuesday on a trip and my surgeon is not available between now and then, although I do see my PT tomorrow. Cause for alarm? Normal part of recovery? I don’t think I did anything traumatic to the injury, but I am not crazy about this swelling.

Week 12, two shoes

I graduated out of the boot today at PT, a day short of 12 weeks, and things felt better than I expected. I still don’t have as much dorsiflexion as I would like, but am pacing normally/typically according to my surgeon and my PT.

PT so far has been mostly about ROM, but now that I’m out of the boot I can start phase 2–which is to strengthen the calf muscle, etc.

I am still wearing the boot on uneven surfaces, etc, but have been told to walk/stand a few hours tomorrow and then build up from there. Even the baby steps feel big right now, which is nice!