Slow recovery, nearly 5 months post-op

Hard to believe it’s so long since my operation, and now about 2 months of walking without aids (crutches, boot, etc).  But as this site makes clear, recovery is a marathon and it feels progress has been increasingly slow over this period.

Current status:

  • I’m having physiotherapy under my work private insurance about every 10-14 days, but likely money will run out soon!
  • Physio is now more physical with focus on use of Cybex (?) machine to strengthen left ankle.  I’ve tried unsuccessfully to attach a scan of my results taken on 15 May which indicate my left ankle is about 50% of the strength of right (although I was always right side dominant, so expect my left was never as strong as my right anyway).
  • For several weeks after giving up the Aircast boot, I preferred to use walking boots out of doors, but now am wearing trainers outside and in the house (occasionally walking boots).   Or when it’s warm enough, bare feet :-)
  • Walking is better and is getting back to full pace, but I’ve limited resilience - perhaps half an hour limit.
  • I bought a (cheap) static bike for the house as I didn’t want to risk cycling outdoors at first, but may go for it now I am stronger.  I don’t swim as my skin reacts to chlorine in swimming pools.
  • Standing still or walking slowly for any length of time is still a real problem.  Ache in back of foot and in Achilles.
  • Generally I still feel tired more quickly, both physically and mentally, than before my ATR.
  • Ankle is often swollen (I was told it would never look quite the same as the other) and certainly doesn’t feel “normal”.
  • It’s hard to combine my demanding job (almost entirely mental and sedentary) with the requirements of walking, exercising and massaging my swollen ankle.

Questions, as there seems less to read about further down the recovery track:

  • Is paid physiotherapy worth it, or should I just keep up the exercises at home and let let nature take its course slowly?  I found using the Cybex machine complete torture, and haven’t used it since mid-May (I’ve had some dental surgery which prevented it until this coming week).
  • Are there good tips for recovery from the point of becoming normally mobile again?  I’m 61 years old and not very physically active, although reasonably fit.
  • Footwear - the most comfortable trainers I have are running shoes with gel heel and a padded heel so less pressure against operated achilles - other trainers and shoes less comfortable.  Walking boots with ankle support are good but the heel gets sore even with gel heel pads.  What have others found best at this stage in their recovery?

3 Responses to “Slow recovery, nearly 5 months post-op”

  1. I found the recovery at 5 months the most depressing time. I still had loads of pain in the tendon and could not ever imagine being normal. Nearly a year on, I played tennis last week!
    I have had occasional physio sessions but done a fair amount in the gym on my own but I did not do anything special. There is so much information on this website.
    I personally think that doing as much walking as possible is really helpful especially when you concentrate on ensuring you walk properly and push off with the forefoot.
    I can’t really comment on footwear as I had a non op course. Anything that is comfortable.
    Good luck

  2. For shoes - wear whatever is most comfortable for you. If the footwear is uncomfortable, it will likely interfere with a normal walking gain. Like Nicky, I feel walking was essential to my recovery - early on, and still (7 months post surgery). As for PT, if you can be diligent in doing your exercises without PT visits or regular check-ins, then you’re probably ok on your own. You could always try it. If it’s not working, or you need a new program, return to your PT for some new exercises.

  3. I’m at week 12, 3rd month, nonop close to full tear, and getting noticeably better results from regular yoga sessions than PT at this point. The only reason I’m still going to PT is so I can get a third party perspective and assessment. Back to 100% of my old ROM and calf raise strength is about 75% of my good side. So in my opinion, by the 5th month, PT is a waste of money. Of course its different for everyone, but if you really wanted it, I think an otherwise fit and healthy person could reasonably get back to sports by the 6th month 100% back to normal.

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