Achilles Recovery Tips/Help?

Hey everyone,

I recently just joined this site and I feel that this is a great place to share ideas and help others in the same boat. I tore my Achilles on September 10 and had surgery on the 20th. I have been on crutches since the 10th when it happened. I am currently taking 14 hours at my university, I live 15 minutes away, have a job at GNC and coaching at CrossFit, and my family lives 3 hours away. This happened at the beginning of this semester so I pretty much got the worst luck possible.

I am a competitive CrossFit athlete as well as a competitive Oly Lifter. I normally train for around 3 hours a day total with appropriate rest days. Ironically enough, my ATR happened while playing a flag football game with my fraternity. On top of all this I am only 20 years of age.

As I said, I have a very busy schedule with my parents out of the picture. My current orthopoaedic has no clue what the VacoCast is, but I know that I want it. I need to at least be able to walk and use my hands in my situation. I need some help or advice with what I should do in my situation. I know that getting back to competing will be a long while, but right now my goal is just walking. I can’t take the crutches anymore.
Please give me some feedback on how I can better this situation.

Thank you,

20 Responses to “Achilles Recovery Tips/Help?”

  1. FWIW, my OS didn’t know about the Vacocast either. I was fitted with a Bledsoe boot at 5 weeks and went to full weight bearing. I would think you will be fitted in some kind of boot at your 4/5 week appointment–whether it is a Vacocast or wedged boot. (The Vacocast seems to be the Lexus of boots.) I just went with what insurance covered–it was fine for me. Once you get into the boot, it gets much easier. Hopefully your transition will be easy and you can start walking around with your hands free.

    There are some other Crossfitters here–sallycoella and Wes Sullivan come to mind. Check out their blogs.

    Sorry to hear about your injury. I wish you a speedy recovery.

  2. Thank you for your quick feedback. I actually just had my 4 week post-op yesterday and got another cast. He wants to give me another cast at 6 weeks. Then at 8 weeks maybe an Aircast with crutches still. How bad does that sound?

  3. On the side bar of the home page there is a section called “ATR rehab, protocols and studies” and RonC posted some additional information on his blog about even more modern protocols. After reading these, I felt like I got a late start with a boot fitting at five weeks. I was hoping to get into one a few weeks earlier. I don’t know your situation but I would lobby to get into a weight bearing boot now or at the 6 week appoint. Early weight bearing and mobilization seems to be the key to a good recovery. I’m sure others will chime in too.

  4. Your Doc is out to lunch, hasn’t been doing his homework. Bit.Ly/UWOProtocol is the fast modern protocol that produced some of the best results of any careful ATR study, with and without surgery. Even their NON-op patients did great going to PWB at 2 weeks in, and FWB (no crutches, free hands) at 4 weeks in or a few days later (”as tolerated”) — so what’s your excuse?

    The whole UWO study is available free on this site (linked from the page KG pointed you to above). The study compared op to non-op, But that’s not the point for you now. The point is that they got great results going a mo th or two faster than your Doc has planned for you. So you be the teacher, and we’ll see if he can learn. Do it for the next 100 patients as well as yourself.

    If you can find the even newer Exeter protocol that Hillie has posted here a few times, it’s a week or so faster than UWO and produced results at least as good. No excuse to get multiple casts for an ATR in 2013, period!

    Good luck! And if you’re unlucky enough to tear the other AT some day (like me!), skip the surgery and go fast.

  5. And if you can, pls install the ATR Timeline Widget to answer our FAQs.

  6. Hi jordanw19,

    Sorry to hear about your Achilles Rupture. I agree with the comments here because they have been there. None of the people here that use Vacocast had a Doc that knew about it beforehand. I only heard about it because Kobe used it.

    With that said, you need to just buy it and take it to the docs office with you. There is also no reason to go from a cast to a cast when you can go from the cast to the VacoCast. That’s what it’s for and you can use it right after the splint - I did (I was in a Vacocast in 2 weeks).

    Almost every Doc that does see it, is very impressed with it, including my Ortho - he loves it. We laughed today about it costing $300, which is what the hospital will bill your insurance for a $80 Air Cast Cam Boot, anyway. My doc calls it a RoboBoot. All I know is that I can adjust it so that I have no “hot spots,” which is awesome!

    Check out my blog on the differences, what to expect and see how you can use the VacoCast boot with a few different protocols (Take the pdfs to your doc). Check out both links.

    LINK: http://achillesblog.com/pgat2013/2013/10/06/a-capsule-of-my-first-4-5-weeks-with-tips-and-linksneeds-tips-and-input-from-the-atr-vets/

    I also included Norm’s link (Non op or Op does not matter with the protocol). I am using the Exteter Protocol and this one. Also, read Kellygirl and other blogs.

    BTW, I had surgery on 9\6 and started PWB at 4 weeks,
    FWB at 5 and at 6 weeks (today), I am boot free at night, my PF is at 0, and earlier today I swam and hit the stationary bike for a few minutes. My gap was 9, with 22 staples and over a 6 inch scar.

    Be careful, listen to your body, do some research and ask more questions. Regarding you Doc and future PT, you need to set the record protocol if necessary - with all due respect. LOL.

    If you have any questions, don’t be afraid to ask.
    Good luck
    Ron

  7. Thank you for your help @normofthenorth !! However, I have already tried to convince my doctor with every possible angle to get me the VacoCast and he simply will not budge. I even tried to talk to another ortho clinic out of town to see about getting the VacoCast. They told me I am in a “Gorbal Period” meaning that I have to be in the care of my current orthopedic clinic for at least 90 days before I can switch orthopedics. I do not know what I should do but I know that I’m getting screwed out of the recovery and abilities that I deserve.

  8. Thank you, @ron . I actually like the idea of just buying it and bringing it in to my ortho after another two weeks. I’m pretty sure Im going to get one last cast or the airboot at my 6 week check up, so I don’t see the harm in just throwing the boot at him and telling him what I want.

    The problem is that I feel he is so unwilling to put me in this boot that I’m worried that he will just walk out of the room and leave me to apply it myself. I guess I will find out!

  9. No worries - again, buy it and when you get home put it on. I took there boot at first as well - my insurance was paying so why not?

    If you like the Vacocast, keep it - period. If you do not then send it back. However, you will feel an immediate difference, and once you learn how to work it and moved the beads around, it is supper comfortable.

    Show him some documentation and ‘edumacate’ the man. LOL.

    At the end of the day, if you can afford it, the VACOCast has way more support, the lining is washable, you can swim in it and adjust it anyway you like. More importantly, he is WAY more comfortable. It’s you foot, period - not the docs.

    Good luck,
    Ron

  10. Hey Jordan! How’s it? From the sounds of it you were in great shape before your injury which will probably help significantly.

    Being in two shoes after about six weeks was unusual. I tried going down to one crutch during a two-day transition phase but found it a pain in the butt. I eventually ditched the crutches and just hobbled along. It took about a day or two to get used to it. (Of course, there’s still a hitch in my gait and my foot/ankle/leg is weaker than normal and achy.)

    I couldn’t get my insurance company to spring for the fancy boot (and frankly didn’t have the cash to spend out of pocket). As you well know, there’s an infinite number of exercises you can do while in a cast/boot. But, if you’re me you miss the sensation of moving your body through space; swimming is a great option. So, if you can get the better boot I say go for it.

    Check out Ryan Border’s page. He looks like a beast! Good luck in your rehab.

  11. Turns out it’s the “Global Period”.

    Jordan, you seem much more focused on the brand of the boot than I am. The new Exeter study used VacoCasts, but the UWO study got virtually identical results with the AirCast, a much simpler, cheaper, non-hinged (”fixed”) boot. If you can get up to the speed of the UWO protocol with an AirCast boot (or any other brand), I’d say grab it.

    BTW, AFAICS the AirCast is just as waterproof as the Vaco. The shell is pure plastic and Velcro, and the liner is plastic foam and Velcro. At one point I soaked and washed my AirCast liner, and it came out fine, so I think a swim in a pool would be a lark. When I wrung it out in a shammy/chamois cloth, it came out essentially dry. The Vaco seems to be a great boot from a great company, but the extra bells and whistles may be aimed more at your head than your ankle/AT.

  12. This is great info, I’m am a 51 yo male, cyclist , triathlete. Ruptured Achilles on Nov 1st, had surgery Nov 8 th. They put me in a soft cast, removed on nov 14 th. Put me in the Bledsoe boot and will remove stitches on Nov 21. They will start moving my foot and start rehab that day. I want to at least start riding on my indoor trainer, how long do you think ? Anyone tried this?

  13. Here’s a post from a month ago, reposted:
    normofthenorth, on October 19th, 2013 at 12:49 am Said: Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    I’ve suggested to many others that they track down the entire UWO study (free on this site), and print it out along with the study’s protocol, at bit.ly/UWOProtocol . Give them to your Doctor and ask him to read them. If he refuses, roll them up and slap him with them! (The choice of whether to start with a forehand or a backhand is up to the patient! [wink])
    For inspiration, you might want to read the blog of a 23-yr-old girl named “johanna”, aka “firstdayofsummer”. She collided with a big fancy hospital in Connecticut over ATR care. They initially browbeat her into submission, but she ended up winning. It’s a helluva story!

  14. Tony, you sound like you’re on the fast track, comparable to bit.ly/UWOProtocol , which I “push”. Why not ask your OS about the trainer? Some feel strongly, some not. I think that pedaling in a boot ON YOUR HEEL is pretty safe, even at your early stage, though (1) there’s no evidence and (2) opinions may well differ. Your vulnerable AT (&c.) can be hurt externally, and it can also be hurt by your own calf muscles, which would be the main risk from cycling too hard too soon. Rapid calf muscle atrophy is a nuisance but it’s also protective of the weak healing AT. Yet some people do rerupture or suffer serious setbacks (1 MONTH in my own case) just from their own muscles, so be cautious, smart, and incremental.

  15. Good afternoon,
    Went to OS today. I will get stitches out next Tuesday. It’s been 13 days since surgery. I am now flexing my foot and I am scheduled for stretching with PT tomorrow . No more crutches and walking with Bledsoe Boot. He said I can start swimming after Thanksgiving. Healing very nicely with no swelling.
    I hope to keep up the speedy recovery

    Tony

  16. Hello,
    I wanted to give everyone an update. I have been swimming since stitches came out with a pull buoy . I have been riding my beach bike with the boot on.
    I go to PT 3 x a week, lots of flexing and stretch with bands. I do this at home twice a day with an old inner tube. I have been sleeping without the boot and some walking around the house slowly without it. I go to the doctor tomorrow ,
    5 weeks since surgery. Will remove last wedge and hopefully a script to the PT for strengthening . I have no swelling and you can barely see the incision

  17. Surgery 5 days after tearing, went to a partial soft cast post op for 10 days, and a hard cast at 10 days nwb, have an appointment to get the cast and stitches out in 4 weeks. I exercise my foot inside my cast. Slow steady stretches in all directions.. Which I feel has been good for me. Opinions? Supposed to move into a boot after cast. My surgeon is very experienced in these surgeries, any ideas, thoughts, or opinions?

  18. Hello

    had my surgery 8/1/13. Tore playing basketball.

    I played my first full game on 1/17/14.

    I only had my cast for 2 days post surgery. Truth is I couldn’t stand the cast.

  19. Hi Alvarado

    So what is the rehab plan now?

    H

  20. I only did rehab until I could walk normally which was about 14 weeks. from then on my rehab was working out as often I as could which was bike for cardio and normal weights for upper body.

    Did not start running until Jan 1 2014. (Could have done it earlier but didnt trust it yet). After two weeks of running im now playing basketball again.

    I am using the k tape and at least psychologically it makes a difference.

    My advice to anyone starting this is early mobility. I read a lot of stories and early mobility is the common theme of successful recovery.

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