Road to Recovery - Physical Therapy Experience

So 1 week after my cast was removed I was referred to physical therapy. My doctor explained to me that having the cast on was the easy part.  The road to recovery is the hard part….and he was right.  I did not realize the role of the Achilles tendon in relation to the foot and the calf muscle until I sustained this injury. Both of my legs sustained a significant amount of atrophy due to no/under use and the calf of the injured leg was like jello. I forgot to mention, I stopped taking the hydrocodone after week 1.

7 Weeks Post Injury.  The first week of physical therapy focused on re-gaining the range of motion in the foot; flexing the foot upwards/downwards and rotating the ankle. My therapist also performed instrument-assisted soft tissue mobilization that breaks down scar tissue and fascial restrictions, optimizing the range of motion. It is called the Graston technique and it hurts like hell, but well worth it. Physical therapy at this point in the recovery process is 3 times per week. The Graston Technique is performed every Wednesday, so once a week. I am performing assigned exercises at home twice a day and icing/elevating the leg in the evening to minimize swelling. Lots of swelling.

8 Weeks Post Injury. Strengthening exercises are introduced. This is my second week of physical therapy. By the end of the week, I am out of my boot. I am also receiving deep tissue massages and manual manipulation of the foot and tendon. I am performing assigned exercises at home twice a day and icing/elevating the leg in the evening to minimize swelling. Lots of swelling.

9 Weeks Post Injury.  Strengthening exercises are continued and balancing exercises are introduced. I am able to perform toe presses with weight on the injured leg although I am still not able to do toe raises. I can tell the leg is getting stronger.  Physical therapy is now twice a week. By the end of the week, I am introduced to the elliptical machine. I can perform cardio on the elliptical for up to 30 minutes as instructed by my therapist as long as there is no pain. I have not had much pain since the cast was removed. Doctor released me back to work full time. I do not have to see my doctor anymore unless I have problems.  At this point, it is strictly recovery.  Swelling is getting better.

10 Weeks Post Injury. Strengthening and balancing exercises continued. Introduced to boxes to teach me how to go up and down stairs properly. Instructed by therapist to practice on one stair going up and down ensuring I bend the injured foot.  By the end of the week, I am able to go up and down stairs with no problem. A little painful initially, but the key is to ensure you bend the foot.  I am able to walk with almost no limp at all. Next week I am down to 1 day per week. Feeling really good. I have resumed my arm, leg, and ab workouts. I have no intentions on running anytime soon as I can satisfy my cardio with the elliptical. Swelling is minimal.

Achilles Tendon Rupture - 21 Jun 16

Hello Bloggers,

My name is Wendy and I wanted to share my Achilles tendon road to recovery with you. A majority of the sites I have visited have very detailed stories of recovery in situations where surgery had been performed to repair the tendon. I did not have surgery so the method used to treat my injury was the conservative method.

Just to give you a little background, I am 52 years old, and I have always been very active. I am retired military so my level of fitness has remained constant throughout my entire life.  I retired in 2004 and continued a routine physical fitness regimen. In June 2015 I decided I wanted to try Cross Fit, and did so for about month. I noticed that aesthetically, I was not getting the result I wanted.  A co-worker recommended a program called Tabata, so I decided I would try it out for a month.  Tabata is a HIIT program that lasts approximately 30 - 45 minutes.  The administrator of the program incorporates a variety of additional cardio activities every 4 rotations (there is normally 12 stations). I also ran on my own for 30 minutes every other day either before or after the Tabata training session. I began the program at the beginning of July and by the end of July, I noticed a big change in my physique so I continued with the program. At the time of my injury, I weighed 147 pounds and had 17% body fat (I’m 5 Ft, 9 in tall).

Fast forward to 21 Jun 16. So 2 days before my 52nd birthday I was participating in a Tabata session and was sprinting from one end of the gym floor to the next as we routinely did. As I turned to changed directions I heard a loud pop! I looked to my left and right to see if anyone was there….and there was no one. I remember thinking what in the hell was that. It did not feel like someone had kicked me or like I had been shot in the leg like I have read on many of the blogs. I felt no pain so I just stood there.  Approximately 30 seconds later, I felt pain radiate up my left leg so I immediately dropped to the floor. At that point I knew I had ruptured my tendon. I was rushed to a local emergency room by ambulance at which time an X-ray was performed to ensure I had not broken a bone. X-ray confirmed no broken bone so my leg was splinted, I was provided crutches, given instructions to keep weight off of the leg, to keep the leg iced and elevated, given a prescription for hydrocodone and sent home. I was referred to an orthopedic doctor for further evaluation the next day.

22 Jun 16 -  I was examined by an orthopedic doctor at which time he confirmed the tendon had been ruptured, but he wanted to perform an MRI to determine if the rupture was partial or complete. He ordered me to be casted immediately and the MRI was conducted. I was given another appointment 24 Jun 16 to interpret the results.

24 Jun 16 - The MRI revealed a complete rupture.  My rupture did not occur in the lower region of the tendon which is more common. Mine ruptured just below the area where the tendon meets the calf muscle.  For that reason, my doctor recommended I not have surgery. He explained to me that my cast would remain on for 6 weeks with no weight bearing. The first 3 weeks my foot was casted in a downward position. At 3 weeks the foot was re- casted in a position slightly upward from the downward position. At week 6 my cast was removed and  I was placed in a boot at which time I went to full weight bearing.

2 Aug 16 - Cast removed and placed in boot; Full weight bearing.