Week 8-Non-surgical success!

July 27, 2009 | |

I feel bad for not having written in a while, especially since I have been making huge strides since week 5.  In short, here is a snapshot of what I have been through since having my cast removed on Friday, June 26th (after 4 weeks in full plantar -flexion):  

My doctor sent me home on crutches with an ace bandage wrapped around my ankle-that was it!  No boot or anything.  He told me to work on moving it at home, and I’d get the walking boot in a week. Needless to say, I was a bit scared of taking a misstep and screwing my achilles up more, so I took it real easy for a few days, spending most of my time in bed and in the bathtub (reading, writing, internet, phone).  Then, on that Sunday, I felt the urge to try putting a little weight into my foot.  I walked to the bathroom with my foot WAY out to the side, but I was walking!  It was a great feeling.  Week 5 felt like a magical week of recovery, as I made probably the most noticeable of my strides since getting hurt at that point.  Since then, I have expereinced noticeable improvements daily, some days more than others, of course.  From the end of week 5 to week 7, I’d say it was  a series of big gains, and slight plateaus.   

I started PT on Friday, July 3rd,exactly 5 weeks post injury upon the consult of a different doctor.   It was kind of funny-the doctor I saw this time was a collegue of my doctor, and figured I’d had a partial tear, since I didn’t have surgery.    When I  informed him that I did indeed suffer a full rupture, he was surprised, and told me he would have operated.   He ended up concluding that my doctor must have thought that the ends of my tendons came together well when I pointed my toe.  When I told him that I was supposed to get my walking boot that day, he figured I didn’t need it, since I was doing well without it and would probably only need it for a week anyway.  So, no boot at all.  Right to 2-shoes from week 4 on. 

Pretty funny side note- I am moving back to where I am from in late August, so I’m starting to pack up.   Since the doctors told me initially that I would be in either a cast or a walking boot until the end of August/early September, I figured I wouldn’t be needing any of my right shoes.    Therefore, when I went home during weeks 2-4, I brought all my right shoes with me, since I knew I wouldn’t need them until I got home.   You can imagine how I felt when doc told me no boot.  Pretty silly, but it makes for a funny story, eh?  Luckily, one of my friends lent me a pair of cute sandals I can wear with just about every outfit!  Oh joy! 

 Upon starting physio, I wasn’t gaining much range right away-I think I started out at -20 degrees from neutral with my leg straight, and -10 degrees with it bent.   I showed little to no gains in dorsiflexion until about the end of week 7.    My PT has told me that pain is my guide -to approach it, then back off.   There was a lot of   “not good pain”  during this time, so it was a little  frustrating.  At PT last Thursday, I had a huge jump in dorsiflexion, going from neutral to +10 degrees since my last appointment 2 days prior.  My PT seemed like she was genuinely happy with me for the first time!   She was even happier today, as I am now almost even in my dorsiflexion with my leg straight and bent.  I rode the stationary bike today for a few minutes, and she has cleared me to ride a bike around town.  Fianlly, I can get some cardio in!  Although I have managed to stay in good shape with my yoga practice, I have missed out on my daily cardio routine.  I also walked my old walk last night for the first time-about 2 miles from downtown to my house-yippie!  It only took about 3 times as long though-patience, I know!

My last doctor appointment was Friday July 24 th.  I haven’t seen him in a month, since he is a locum and not always in town.  He was very pleased to see me walk with just a hint of a limp.  It was that Monday that I ditched the crutches (used them a little on Tuesday, as I had to rush to an appointment on foot-so week 7.5).  After taking a look at my achilles, he told me that I am a “marvel”!  Yeah for me, right?  He seemed really happy, and finally admitted to me that I was an “experiment”.  He said they would have typically opereated on me, but wanted to see how I did, since there is now a lot of research backing the non-operative treatments.  At this point, I couldn’t be happier with my care and current state of recovery.  I know there are a lot of folks out there who feel that this is an injury that needs to be operated on to successfully heal.  There is a lot of data out there suggesting this, and I’m not saying that non-surgical is for everyone.  However, I don’t have to worry about an ugly scar that could adhear to the tendon.  I don’t have to worry about the extra scar tissue that forms inside because of the repair.  And if I am still worried abotu re-rupture, i can get PRP therapy.  My achilles will always be a little thicker than the other one, but it would be even thicker if I had surgery.  There my be a slightly higher re-rupture potential, but I will take that, accept it, and move on, knowing that I made the best decision I could for me at the time, based on lots of personal research, thought and support.  I have a good feeling about my future, as far as athletic pursuits.  This injury has made me more aware of the other chronic injuries I have, and made me realize I need to take better care of myself.  I need to eat better, I need to be kind to my body and listen to it when it speaks to me through pain (and other feelings).  I feel very lucky to have had a great doctor and PT, which I wasn’t sure I was going to get up here in the sub-arctic.  My gut feeling is that this injury to going to heal pretty close to where it was before I ruptured.    I have a long way to go still, but it feels like week 8 is the beginning of a new phase in this process :)


4 Comments so far

  1. waynu on July 27, 2009 11:12 pm

    Great post - I’m also at week 8 post injury and, like you opted for the non-surgical route. I’m happy with the way things are progressing, and looking forward to following in your footsteps so to speak


  2. jberton31 on July 28, 2009 12:42 pm

    Gymartist, what a great story about the right shoes! You cracked me up.

  3. 2ndtimer on July 28, 2009 3:46 pm

    I am very surprised at this so-called experiment of moving from the cast to 2 shoes so fast.
    I am not sure how old you are, but I would advise you to be still very careful.
    I was not operated on either, and had the cast for 7 weeks, then the boot for 4 weeks, and my doctor was very pleased with the result after that and told me he did not need to see me anymore.
    I did PT and walked a fair bit…. for 7 weeks it looked good.
    And then I re-ruptured it 19 weeks after the first rupture….
    When you are tired or it is swelling up: listen to your body and stop!

    Good luck.

  4. rainbow395 on July 30, 2009 12:03 am

    your post is really encouraging - whereabouts are you?
    I have been in a cast for 4 weeks and am having it removed tomorrow. There do not seem to be many stories about conservative treatment, most people seem to have operations.
    I am in New Zealand and there seems to be a fair amount of research here supporting similar outcomes for operation and non-operation treatment as long as early mobility is encouraged which it seems you had.
    I am so encouraged by your post - thank you

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