Lauren’s AchillesBlog

I once was a warrior until an arrow hit my heel

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Running -pain around ankle?

Hello Everyone!

It’s been awhile since I provided an update on my status. I am currently 9 months post rupture, and I have been slowly running and getting back into shape. I went to PT for about 8 visits before my OS gave me some at-home treatment options (he was worried about me rerupturing my tendon at PT). As of now, I can do about 10 single-leg heel raises on my bad leg with no assistance. I’ve also been trying to increase my mileage running (right now, I can run about 2.5 miles [slowly] without stopping to stretch).

I just had my last OS appointment and I am cleared to start resuming normal activity (jumping, sprinting, etc). My main issue is that when my leg gets fatigued after running or walking long distances, the back of my ankle hurts. This pain does not occur directly on the tendon, but rather at the sides of the tendon and near my ankle bone. My PT said this was normal as my foot muscles are making up for the lack of strength. The pain also occurs in the morning when my ankle/leg is very stiff. Stretching almost always makes the discomfort go away. Is this a common senstation for anyone else? I am nervous to start jumping….

Foot exercises (2.5 weeks post ATR)

Last week I had another appointment (not with the surgeon, but the awesome PA). My cast was bivalved and I was instructed to perform 20 foot raises 4x/day. Specifically, I had to raise my foot until it was perpendicular to my shin, or parallel to the floor. After 2.5 weeks in a cast with my toes pointed downward, my achilles was naturally pretty tight.  I was petrified to accidentally rerupture my tendon by forcing my foot into this position, so I only lifted up my foot as far as it would go until I felt stiffness. I repeated this exercise the required number of times per day.

On Christmas Eve, I returned to the ortho for an evaluation and to get fitted for an aircast/walking boot. At this appointment, I was told that my foot was not where it was supposed to be after a week of foot raises. I was warned that if I didn’t stretch the scar tissue, my foot would heal in such a way that my toes would be permanently pointed. I proceeded to begin fainting as she moved my foot into the correct position - the feeling of my achilles stretching coupled with my extreme fear of rerupture overwhelmed my system. I returned to my car after this appointment feeling defeated.

While I have an extremely high threshold for pain, the anxiety of moving my once unmovable foot had adversely affected my rehabilitation and ultimately, my progress. I wanted to post about this experience because it was the first time I started to feel sorry for myself. Determined not to be beaten by my own psychology, I have since spoken with many family members who have completed various forms of rehabilitation related to cancer, joint replacements, and other tendon ruptures to learn how they dealt with their anxiety and fears throughout the process. A common theme pervades their stories: perseverance in the face of obstacles.

This weekend, I received a prescription for anti-nausea medication so I could fight through my queasiness and perform the necessary exercises needed for me to beat this injury. Throughout the holiday break, I have been able to lift my foot into the correct position in intervals of 20 reps about 6x/day. I feel like I have crossed a major psychological milestone. I am prepared to overcome the next set of hurdles that await me.

I now realize that rehabilitation from this injury may be an arduous and sometimes lonely experience. However, optimism and mental fortitude (however gained) are perhaps prerequisite for a successful recovery.

Stir crazy

I am entering my third week since I ruptured my Achilles. Since I am not allowed to fly or drive long distances due to the elevated risk of blod clots, I am trapped in my college town for the holidays. I made a trip to a craft store to investigate various DIY projects I can complete over the holiday break while concurrently binge-watching my favorite shows on Netflix. Things could be worse!

It’s a shame that my tendon decided to rupture close to the holidays since all I want to do is indulge in cookies and Bailey’s! I’ve read the posts of others regarding various exercises that can be done to maintain some level of fitness during this grueling recovery. As of now, I think I can only manage upper body strength exercises and ab workouts. Yesterday, I went to TJ Maxx and bought myself a pair of dumbbells. I hope to become a sit-up and push-up queen by the end of this.

After how many weeks did everyone begin some sort of cardio exercise? I scoot around in my knee scooter for about an hour a day to pretend I am working out.

Hope everyone has a safe holiday break!

Conservative treatment?!

Hello All,

I recently completely ruptured my Achilles tendon on 12/1/14 playing recreational basketball (former college basketball player). I am currently a graduate student at a large research institution, and my orthopedic surgeon is an associate professor and treats many of the elite athletes at my school. When I first met with him, he gave me a choice between surgical intervention vs. conservative treatment (cast then boot). He said I was a “tweener” based on my high activity level and “young” age (30 y/o). I did however have some degeneration in my tendons due to boxing and playing basketball all of these years. Anyway,  I trusted his judgement and interpretations of the science, and subsequently declined surgery due to the risk of complications associated with any invasive treatment. Since the ends of my ruptured tendon overlap when my toe is pointed (as seen on my ultrasound), my surgeon was very comfortable with me undergoing nonsurgical intervention. In fact, within the last five years, he has moved away from performing surgeries on this type of injury (for non-elite athletes, anyway).

I have been somewhat concerned about the re-rupture rates associated with a nonsurgical procedure, but my surgeon has assuaged these fears by stating that both the published literature and his personal/anecdotal experiences as a physician have not shown a heightened risk associated with conservative treatment. My biggest fears are that (1) I won’t be able to run/sprint after this injury and (2) I won’t be able to engage in high-intensity weight lifting exercises.

Has anyone had conservative treatment for a complete rupture? What was your prognosis?