ATR recovery, step by step

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11 week update, closing in on two shoes

I am 11 weeks post-op after a full rupture on March 14 after several months of achilles tendonitis. I had surgery on March 17. Surgery was routine, and no issues with incision healing, etc. I was in a cast for six weeks, and have now been in a boot for five more. Taking a conservative approach to recovery, want to avoid rerupture at all costs.

While I am still in a boot, I’m getting better ROM and am now able to walk great distances thanks to the Even-up, logging nearly two miles yesterday. Swelling is starting to go down overall, but still a good bit at the injury site.

I am preparing to walk with two shoes beginning a week from today, so my PT did some stretches on my foot today and I have better dorsiflexion in my involved ankle than my un-injured ankle (7 to 6). My PT said that could be because she had just stretched me, or it could be that my uninvolved achilles was tight to the point that it triggered the tendonitis in my involved achilles that ultimately led to my rupture.

I’ve got a mental block about walking, am pretty anxious about it…but hoping that fades away after a few steps. I’ll be in shoes with good ankle support, of course.

Thanks again for all of your updates; the blog has been a helpful resource!

Week 9 (overall Day 64) Post-Op report

I had surgery for a complete rupture on March 17 (pretty sure my surgeon used green stitches) and have learned a lot from all of your updates, thanks!

I am FWB in a boot with one wedge, walking pretty normally thanks to my Even-Up (with some additional foam glued to the bottom), and driving, as well. I’ve been in PT since week 6, although it’s pretty garden variety so far (just ROM, a little bit of exercises without weights). Last week I was able to swim (using leg floats, just upper body workout) for the first time. Outside of the excitement of trying to get in the pool without putting stress on the tendon, it worked out pretty well.

This past Saturday, I spent about five hours on my feet, and I have a good amount of swelling as a result. But otherwise each week is an improvement. I expect to be out of the boot on day 84, still three weeks away. My surgeon is cautious around overstretching, which is why I am still riding a wedge in the boot.

Thanks to all that have taken the time to share their stories; it’s been helpful to me to hear about others progress!

Day 43, into a plastic boot

After moving to FWB in a walking cast at day 35 post-op, I transitioned today (day 43) to a plastic boot with two wedges, and am looking forward to a real shower, among other things. I don’t have much swelling and the incision is looking much better. I also gave up the knee bike, which wasn’t easy as it was an awesome way to get around for longer distances even after I went FWB.

One piece of advice I can share after having a succession of five casts removed is to ask the tech to insert a long flexible piece of plastic between the cast and your leg, below where the cast will be cut. The first time I had a cast removed, I got burned a little by the heat from the cast cutter. Nothing serious, but that possibility is eliminated with the plastic strip (sort of like a flexible plastic ruler). No idea if this is standard practice, but I only got burned by the cutter once…that first time, without the plastic insert.

One other thing that I experienced that surprised me was incredibly achy toes the first few days of FWB, presumably because those muscles hadn’t been engaged much the previous four weeks. It went away in a day, though.

I start PT today and will drop to one wedge sometime in the next four weeks and am expected to be in the boot for another ~6 weeks before two shoes. I was green-lighted to swim with leg floats, which I’m looking forward to doing.

I asked my surgeon about the more aggressive protocols that move away from the boot and away from wedges sooner. He echoed what I’ve heard here that 6-12 weeks is a "dangerous" time for re-rupture. He also shared that he had never seen an issue with a repaired tendon being too short, but that he had seen issues with elongation. That was his rationale for moving more slowly. For me I think it just comes down to whether or not you trust your surgeon, but I do admit I’m envious of those of you moving faster!

Happy healing everybody, and thanks for all of the great information to help me manage my recovery.

Adam Wainwright injury

While I recognize that not all of us are baseball fans, I thought it might be of general interest to know that another professional athlete has joined the ATR ranks. Adam Wainwright, a pitcher for the St. Louis Cardinals, appears to have ruptured his achilles yesterday planting to run out of the batter’s box. He reported a sensation that sounds familiar for many of us:

"I thought I got hit by something," he explained. "If you look at the replay, I kind of get out of the box and I look back thinking, ‘Gosh, the catcher’s mask must have hit me. The bat must have hit me or something."

I take no joy in anybody else joining the ATR club, but perhaps we can learn from and be inspired by his recovery.

Full rupture 14 March, joining the conversation

Greetings all! I had a complete rupture on March 14, happened just taking an awkward step at home, and had surgery on March 17. I’ve already gained a lot of insight from many of you, and thank you for that. I hope that my recovery story can help some of you, as the stories of others have certainly helped me.

First, some background. I am a 51 year old male that is very active, including whitewater kayaking, hiking, rock climbing, ice hockey, etc. On Saturday March 14, I took an awkward step at home and it was immediately obvious that I had snapped my achilles. Two days later,  I was diagnosed by my orthopedist with a complete rupture, and the following day (3/17) I had surgery. It was routine, although I was told afterwards that my tendon was very retracted and had "mop ends."

Post-op, I rented a knee bike, which was incredibly helpful! I honestly can’t imagine what it would have been like to use crutches to get around for the first few weeks. The other two things that were indispensible were a shower bag for my leg and a shower stool. The products listed on the page are definitely worth looking at.

So far, recovery has been pretty routine, although I had a few challenges with casts that made my toes go to sleep (I had those changed out). At this point I am day 32, and I’ve started to dabble in FWB and am getting more and more comfortable with that. I am still in a cast, but expect to go to a boot in ten days or so. My Ortho has been in the loop on all of my choices to date, of course.

Next step is to move to a plastic boot. Again, thanks for all of the insight that you’ve provided so far!