3 weeks in…

My achilles popped the morning of Feb. 12, 2011; 8 hours later I was on the operating room without having considered any other option but having surgery. It happened in a jump while playing soccer and it was the most pain I’ve felt since my torn ACL 10 years ago. Since then it has been difficult to carry on routine daily activities. Was in a bandage for a week and now in an aircast. Now the palm of my hands hurt and I am stronger than ever because of the crutches. I feel my leg recovering and I am extremely anxious to start physical therapy. A few questions:
-What should I expect in the following weeks?
-What should I look for in a good PT program?
-When will I will be able to excercise?
-When will I walk again without using crutches?
Thanks!

8 Responses to “3 weeks in…”

  1. You’ve come to the right place, poet, but I think you’ll find most of your questions answered already, on pages that should be relatively easy for you to find.

    The answers to your “When” questions depend on your rehab protocol, which is most often determined by the preferences of your surgeon, especially for somebody who had surgery. One good (fast, modern, successful) protocol is posted at bit.ly/UWOProtocol . I personally don’t think there’s much excuse for any doctor to make his patients go more slowly than that schedule, and it’s possible that a bit faster might work as well or (who knows?) even better. But that schedule has produced excellent results and is relatively convenient, too. If your Doc suggests slower, I’d hit him with that protocol and that study’s excellent results — e.g., at http://bit.ly/UWOStudy , though the entire study is now published on this very web-site — and challenge him to justify his approach.

    Faster is way easier on the patient. And boots (like your AirCast) are better than casts.

    Good luck, and good healing!

  2. I am 7 months, non-surgical

    I HATED my crutches

    HIGHLY recommend a knee-scooter; mine was covered by insurance.

    It does get better, it just takes time. My Ortho was very cautious re PT so I cant help you there.

  3. Hey Poet

    I didn’t know I had options either. I was in surgery 2.5days after my ATR. I haven’t had any problems with the crutches….I think due to really good upper body strength but you might want to consider using weight lifting gloves….they are padded at the palms and you can pick them up fairly inexpensively. I try and keep the weight of my body in my arms and not so much on my hands….that probably isn’t a really good explanation. I also try not to lean on crutches and keep my spine as erect as possible….this way your whole upper body is working so the weight doesn’t stay in one spot….hope this helps.

    I’m also anxious to start PT….according to others on the site I may have been able to start sooner…but I’m getting a very quick education in ATR. I see the doctor on Friday. At least you were not in a hardcast.

    I was back at the gym 2 wks post-op…working upper body etc….it helped to feel like I was at least doing something.

    It looks like we are going to be on the same timeline approximately so I will be looking forward to hearing about your progress.

    From what I have learned it will be a while before we can ditch the crutches even once 2 feet are on the ground

    Happy Healing.

  4. In my opinion, a good PT will be EXTREMELY hands-on and work one-on-one w/you. Initially, they will be focusing on strengthening your leg muscles (NOT calves) so that when you are able to start walking, you have the supporting muscle strength to do so properly. I also feel a good PT should start mobilizing the scar tissue very early on, and should include some LIGHT range of motion exercises and movements to keep your foot and ankle from getting stiff.
    The first few weeks will consist of keeping the repair PROTECTED, the surrounding tissues loose, and keeping swelling under control w/elevation and ice.

    For me, I was in the VACOcast at various degrees of plantar flexion over the course of about 6 weeks or so, and moved into 2 shoes at about week 8.

    [WORDPRESS HASHCASH] The poster sent us ‘0 which is not a hashcash value.

  5. sorry to hear it, but it gets better. i’m at week 15.

    1. get a knee scooter period. thing improved my quality of life tremendously. i couldn’t carry a cup of coffee from the ktichen to my couch without it.

    2. i would think you’ll be FWB around week 4-6. i was FWB at week 8, but that was because my incision took longer to heal.

    3. you should start PT around week 6. i’ve posted this before, but any PT place with an Alter G treadmill is a good sign. i’ve used it and its helped me regain my gait pretty quickly.

    4. once you get FWB, i started doing undulation training with a rope. the ropes are expensive, but the cardio workout is intense and it felt good to break a great sweat without taking a step.

    obviously, your surgeon will know best about your particular situation, but after the initial pins/needles from my first few days of FWB, as long as you’re in the boot, I was told you’re pretty safe.

  6. I was also tortured by the crutches but my arms look about 100% better. My hands still have calluses and I’m at week 13(14 in 2 days). Janet’s description on how to use them is right on. I was using them wrong to start with. If you stand up straight there is so much less strain on every part of your body. And don’t use your underarms to support yourself. I was on cruthches for almost two months. I never went to one. I walked into PT one day and said I have to get off these things…and I did.
    I was in a boot at week 5 and PT week six. Also try to get a PT program where you see the same one every time. I HATE those places where you spend a good part of your appt explaining what is clearly written down somewhere cause you just told the other guy last time!
    Try to swim as soon as you can as you can do lots more things in the water than on land.
    And use this site! It helped me through some dark times and still helps me to compare. This week we compared scars!
    Cellblock4(what does that mean)is so right, your individual experience may be close to some but it is still your own deal!
    The boot is on the way, and then you won’t want it anymore!
    Goodluck!

  7. I posted the following around 24 hrs ago, but I just noticed it’s still “awaiting moderation”, and I think I can fix that with a quick edit:
    ~~~~start of re-post~~~~
    You’ve come to the right place, poet, but I think you’ll find most of your questions answered already, on pages that should be relatively easy for you to find.

    The answers to your “When” questions depend on your rehab protocol, which is most often determined by the preferences of your surgeon, especially for somebody who had surgery. One good (fast, modern, successful) protocol is posted at bit.ly/UWOProtocol . I personally don’t think there’s much excuse for any doctor to make his patients go more slowly than that schedule, and it’s possible that a bit faster might work as well or (who knows?) even better. But that schedule has produced excellent results and is relatively convenient, too. If your Doc suggests slower, I’d hit him with that protocol and that study’s excellent results — e.g., at bit.ly/UWOStudy , though the entire study is now published on this very web-site — and challenge him to justify his approach.

    Faster is way easier on the patient. And boots (like your AirCast) are better than casts.

    Good luck, and good healing!
    ~~~~end of re-post~~~~

    In addition, about crutches:
    As Gail said, NEVER let your underarm rest on the cushy “handle” of the crutches to hold your weight. That cushion is to be jammed between your arm and your side, to hold a little weight and mostly to stabilize the crutches. The way I was taught, the weight is mainly on your hands, with your elbows either totally straight or almost straight. (If the pad hits your underarms, you need to adjust the “settings”.)

    Yes, it’s a workout for the hands. Gloves can help, as does padding on and around the hand-grips. I taped yoga-mat foam all around there — same stuff I put on the kneeling stool by the bathroom sink, and on the stool in the shower!!

    If you’re tempted to buy any crutch substitute, I think you’re probably spending too long on crutches! I’d fix your protocol first, and look for ways to survive too many weeks of NWB second! Just my $0.02, of course, as always.

    I also avoided the 1-crutch hobble, though I did carry a cane around for a few days at the start of FWB. (When I started forgetting where I’d left it, I started leaving it there.)

    Good healing, everybody! I just started Cardio Rehab today. I’m supposed to walk a 16-minute mile 5 times a week, with a little warmup and cooldown before and after. Maybe I’ll make some of it the “push-up” heel-lift “funny walk”, just to get my wimpy calf more into it. . .

  8. Yup, it worked this time. The only difference was the beginning of one of the URLs, you know, that h-t-t-p thing. When I included it, the post was sent into limbo. Poet, you can delete that old one now if you want, rather than approving it as a moderator. (Or just ignore it!)

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