princessachilles’s AchillesBlog

So, how does a Princess deal with Achilles Tendon Surgery & Recovery? Follow along…

Okay it’s PWB time & I need advice from you pros on Crutches.

Filed under: Uncategorized — princessachilles at 8:50 pm on Thursday, February 27, 2014

So I am at 3 weeks post surgery tomorrow and when I saw the surgeon on Monday,  he said that I could start PWB on Friday.  He said to start out at 15 min a day then increase it 15 min every couple days as tolerated.  Now before I get into my question there is something I want to explain.  I am an overweight woman, my surgery was not due to an injury or tear like most everyone on here.  (Read my post Not your everyday Achilles Tendon injury…in fact, there was no injury. )  I have chronic back pain and had to have this surgery done before I can do back surgery so, I have spent the past year in bed.  We have a split level house so, I haven’t gone anywhere except to the follow up visit.  I have pretty much zero upper and lower body strength.

That being said, I’m trying to figure out the best option for me of what to use while doing PWB.  I have been using the knee scooter for getting around.   I originally had a walker that I was going to use for getting around before the nurse explained to us that I would be NWB.  I see a lot of people talk about using crutches, I some with no upper body strength that’s gonna be very difficult BUT, a great way to start working on my upper body strength.  The Millennial crutches look interesting and like they might be easier for me to use.  I’ve also seen the forearm crutches,  I don’t think those would be very easy to use.  Anyway, I would like to find out what you guys used and your opinions.

What did you use to help you get around when you started PWB?  Did it work well?  Did you switch to something else?  Did it work better?

I really appreciate any help you guys can give me!  Thank you! :)



Comment by janis

February 27, 2014 @ 9:05 pm

I used plain ol’ fashioned crutches. Not gonna lie, it is rough on the upper body, and sometimes the pain in my shoulders was worse than the pain in my foot. I have heard decent reviews from people who used a knee scooter. If I had it to do over again I would probably use that.


Comment by Vicki

February 27, 2014 @ 9:52 pm

I used both crutches and a knee scooter. I saw somebody on here used an “icrutch”, you might want to Google it and check it out. It looks like you strap it to your knee and your shin rests on something. It’s hand’s free so you are able to carry things. I wish I would have seen this sooner. I probably would have ordered it.

Good luck!


Comment by princessachilles

February 27, 2014 @ 11:34 pm

Vicki did you use the crutches when you got to PWB or did you use a the knee scooter for PWB or a combo? I’m not sure how to use it for partial weight bearing. I’ll keep using it for the times that I’m not using that foot for sure. I found these and I wasn’t sure if these would be more comfortable and easier to use than the regular crutches


Comment by Ron

February 28, 2014 @ 12:44 am

I like the ideas above. I used standard crutches but made sure that I bought padding for the hand grips and the under arm areas. Also make sure that you are fitted correctly.

I remember when I first went PWB and used my crutches for the first time. I had 3 appts at the hospital and was out for hours. Later that night, it seemed like every muscle in my body locked up. It was terrible, so going forward, I asked to be wheel-chaired around. LOL.

That said, some people have both- crutches and a scooter. The good news is that you should be FWB in no time at all, so don’t spend too much money.

Good luck,


Comment by normofthenorth

February 28, 2014 @ 3:21 am

As you’ve figured out above, PA, none of the real crutch substitutes (like scooters or iCrutch knee things) can help you get through PWB, just NWB.

I used (and usually recommend) ordinary wooden crutches and I padded the heck out of them myself, wherever they bothered my hands and wrists. NOT on the “underarm” pad, because it’s not actually supposed to touch your under-arm; it gets clamped between your arm and your chest.

Those Millennial crutches might be an improvement, or not, I don’t know. Obviously being very heavy, and being female (lower upper-body strength, on average), and being out of shape, all make it tougher, and I don’t have any nifty solution for that. It’s conceivable that a walker would be better for PWB, or maybe having both available to switch back and forth. The problem is, with either one, if you’re only going to put (say) 20% of your weight on your post-op foot, then your two hands are going to have to hold up 80% of your body weight. The total has to be 100%. I don’t see an alternative, other than a chain hoist running on a ceiling track, like my Dad had in his electric-motor shop! (I’ve had a miserable backache this week, and I’ve been thinking of installing one of those at home myself!)

The fancy new Alter-G treadmill would definitely help, but only when you’re actually in a place that has one. (It’s basically a ceiling chain hoist mounted over a treadmill.) And ditto walking in deep water, where you can choose your PWB fraction by choosing the depth of water. Much easier than going to the moon, but with a similar effect.

There are some rare people who’ve gone very quickly from NWB to FWB (including everybody who’s done BOTH ATs at the same time), but most of us seemed to need a couple of weeks of steady transition to take that step. Adding an extra (say) 50 pounds to your body weight generally does NOT add that much strength to your legs, ankles, feet, tendons, or muscles (or overweight and obese people would be able to jump as high as average folks. And the same kind of math and physics applies to a healing tendon and a rebuilding calf muscle. (If I lost maybe 20 pounds, I’d probably have a decent 1-leg heel raise. Not going to happen!) For you, that may mean your LEG will want to spend longer than average in the PWB transition — but your hands and arms may disagree.

The only “gizmo solutions” I can think of offhand are along the lines of wheeled chairs, or sit-on scooters or pedal-less bikes. . . E.g., if you had a short mountain bike with a big comfy seat and no (removed the) pedals, you could split your weight between your bum, your hands, and your feet, and push yourself around. As your leg recovered, you could walk taller and taller, until there was no weight on your bum. (Do you have a university with an engineering department nearby? If it has a Med School AND an engineering department, it may actually have some people working on designing medical aids, and they may enjoy this challenge. Seriously. Even a good technical High School.)

When the Winter Olympics were in Lillehammer, Norway, the TV coverage showed lots of people scooting around on little bicycle-like things on skis. They sat on top of this thing and pushed themselves around (except downhill) with their feet. That could be PWB-friendly.

Even with just an office chair or a “transport weelchair”, if you scooted around the house backwards, you could get some PWB benefit without holding yourself up on your hands. You could add cushions or phone books to the seat as you recover, so your position is more upright and you’re closer to FWB.

That’s the result of about 5 minutes of serious thought, and I’m pretty sure our human species can do much better if it tries. The trick is getting it to try.


Comment by deeleft

February 28, 2014 @ 9:18 am

Hi PrincessAchilles, I think you have some pretty good and comprehensive advice above but just thought I would share my experience too.

I used forearm crutches (I am in Europe and they are standard here) and found them tough going at first but did get used to them quite quickly. I had to pad the handles a lot and have also heard of people using weightlifting gloves to support their hands.

I wasn’t PWB for very long - maybe a week between NWB and FWB - and certainly found it tough going if I tried to cover any significant distance. 15 minutes without any rest is quite a lot at first so I wouldn’t worry if you find you need to rest more than that when you get started. Strategically placed chairs around the house are a good idea and I only went outside the house with company at first as I was a bit nervous about falling or getting tired.

Hopefully you won’t be PWB and can get on to FWB before too long. If you try any of Norm’s gizmo solutions let us know too!


Comment by grammy

February 28, 2014 @ 11:43 pm

I used my knee scooter and a walker while PWB - at the end I preferred the walker - but not in public!!! At work I used both and a rolling office chair. PWB doesn’t last forever and it gets easier in time.


Comment by princessachilles

March 12, 2014 @ 1:38 am

Thank you all so much…all of your opinions I read over and over…in the end my husband didn’t get the crutches, so I used the walker and it seems to work good. I can lean on it and keep my balance better but, it seems to be going so slow for me, not fast like everyone has said.


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