How tear happened

On January 8,th playing tennis with a friend in Hawaii, I am a very infrequent tennis player. I am active though, lots of walking, elliptical trainer, road riding bike in summer. After playing for an hour we were walking off but my tennis partner said lets just play for a few more minutes…boom go to do a backhand…who hit my calf…electric like shock…next thing on the ground. Because the pain initially was upper calf, I thought I had an upper calf tear. Lay around for the next two hours trying not to throw up. Swelling sets in and I have a terrible time walking. Pick up some crutches. By the next day heavy swelling in calf to foot…off to clinic as I was flying back to Vancouver the next day, to see about flying with swollen leg and the potential of a blood clot. The doctors think high calf tear as well as I passed a Thompson test. Back home I see a sports medicine doctor, sends me to imaging on January 15th, and I find out I have torn half of my Achilles. Get splinted, with toe pointed down (right foot). Orth doc discussed surgery vs. a conservative approach…doc leaned to conservative approach…which was nice as this seemed to jive with what I had been reading on this website. Now it is February 2nd. Been three weeks of no driving and no walking and the realization of a fairly long road back is setting in. I would like to know what the road back realistically what all the steps will look like. I look forward to posting on this site and encouraging others along this path!

11 Responses to “How tear happened”

  1. Hi Mark, I hope you’re able to find useful information about non-op treatment and recovery on this site. There seem to be a lot of people who post here who have had great experiences with that approach.

    I did have surgery (and a rerupture and second surgery which I am currently recovering from) so can’t advise too much on non-op treatment but I certainly sympathise with the extended time on crutches! If you have family and friends around and they are offering to help, definitely take them up on those offers. I have been getting out and about with taxis as well - I figure I am definitely spending less on socialising overall so its okay to throw a little money at the transport problem! Not sure if that is possible for you but it definitely helps to have a change of scene even if it just to meet someone for a coffee or something.

    Good luck with your recovery - do you know when you will be able to start to weight bear and say goodbye to the crutches? That will make such a difference and make things altogether more bearable!

  2. Mark, Sorry to hear you’ve been taken by the tendon troll. That pain in the upper calf is what I felt with the first one 4.5 years ago. The right one was a bit more “controlled”. A definite tear but not as traumatic in my opinion. A few strands left as I understand. Non-op is going extremely well on this one. I am six weeks out from the injury. I was in a boot right away and healing is going very well. It is amazing how the gap has filled in and the tendon has tightened right up. I think it likes being just a tad longer as it was probably too short to begin with. Anyway, good luck with your recovery and be patient.

  3. Hi Mark,

    I too had a partial rupture (60%) which my doctor initially misdiagnosed as a calf tear. I was pretty sure I had torn the achilles, but the doctor wouldn’t believe me until I went back a week later and there was alot of bruising and blood settled around my ankle and foot. An MRI finally confirmed it.

    My ortho did not suggest surgery. I was in a boot, non-weight bearing and started PT at 7weeks. I honestly don’t remember when I got out of the boot. This was in 2012 and I didn’t keep any notes. At about 5 months I had another MRI and it showed that the partial rupture was at 30%. I was definitely in two shoes at this point. I’d say that the tear was healed well enough by 9 months. I was working out at the gym and able to walk well. Running was another issue which was the heel bone rubbing against my achilles. This is what eventually sent me into surgery (with a different ortho). Another MRI at 1 year confirmed that the rupture was fully healed.

    I think non-op, at least for a partial rupture, is the way to go. It definitely healed well for me. My PT was also amazing. She was very aggressive and I was religious with my exercises.

    Good luck with the healing. Make sure you stay on top of your PT exercises!

  4. TM, you can check my page “The case for skipping ATR surgery”.for a review of the evidence. Interestingly, there’s NO evidence (AFAIK) about the effectiveness of modern fast non-op treatment of PARTIAL ATRs — only COMPLETE ruptures (where it’s surprisingly effective). Logic suggests that it should work OK, but logic is often wrong in this field! ;-)

    Good luck, and keep us posted. (I’m just back in TO from a week out your way, skiing in Whistler.)

  5. I don’t know how your calf injury changes things, but going slower than generally INcreases the risk of AT reruptures, so.I wouldn’t go (much) slower.

  6. Hi TravelMark, I was also non-op. You can read my blog on here but I essentially had a rapid rehab with nearly 3 weeks in a cast, then 4 weeks in the boot (removing a heel wedge each week), then straight to 2 shoes. Its felt like a slow recovery despite being described as rapid. The worst time was the early weeks when I could neither drive or walk up our hill to freedom! best wishes with your recovery. Micah1

  7. OOps, I meant to say that it definately gets better week by week. Its really useful to keep a blog, not just to share and inspire others, but also so that you can check your own progress. There were weeks where I seemed to plateau for ages and feel that I had made little progress, but then when you read back at where you were in your recovery 2 weeks prior………etc. Progress can be subtle!

  8. Hi Mark,

    I had a full rupture in July. I struggled with the decision of surgical or non-surgical. I went non-surgical. it was a long road. I was in a boot for 12 weeks. I rented a left foot accelerator, as it was my right foot, which was a huge help! Now six plus months later, I feel that I am in pretty good shape. I am riding my bike, doing a little bit of Irish step dancing and working out at the gym. My OS and PT are thrilled with how it looks. I do occasionally have some pain and tightness, but it is a good reminder to me to go slow and keep stretching and strengthening my calf muscle. I am happy with my decision so far.

    Good luck!

  9. I was op myself and am fine with that. However, if you want to get some inspiration for non-op recovery, there is a youtube video of a CFL player floating around which is really amazing.

    Possible search words on this site for CFL youtube or on youtube for CFL achilles.

  10. Brady Browne, IIRC. Maybe Brown.

  11. 12 weeks in a boot is much slower than the most successful published protocols (like the UWO-study protocol I linked above).

    Sara Ann did OK, but the studies and meta-studies show unacceptable rerupture rates, 15% or higher. (That still means 85% escape, but Don’t Go There.)

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