4 Days Post Op for Tibialis Anterior Tendon Rupture Repair

Edited , 6 users are following.

I had a freak accident in my kitchen which resulted in my Anterior Tibial Tendon being completely severed. It's the tendon that controls 80% of dorsiflexsion /movement so I had no control over my foot placement and no heel toe transition. I am a long distance runner, hiker and tennis player so the surgery was a must do. I am just 4 days post op and having a very rough time with pain and I am leg up/toes above nose pretty much 99% of the time..As soon as I lower my foot the pain is over a 10 and my toes immediately turn bright red and swell...terrible burning pain around surgical area and entire foot/toes.. I am told this is all "normal"..I still have some residual numbness around my knee area from the nerve block which I am told will resolve over time; I'm a little worried about that. A few questions....How do you shower when you can't even stand for more then a few seconds before the pain kicks in? I have all the "shower" supplies but cannot imagine being able to tolerate a shower right now...How long did you need prescription pain meds for? Did you take daily low dose aspirin to prevent clots? I know everyone is different but just wanting to get a sense of how others have managed after ankle surgery. I know I have a long road ahead and trying to stay positive. Thanks!

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  • Edited

    I am so sorry! Crazy how one minute we are active and normal, and the next the world is turned upside down! I am also active and love to hike, so I feel you. I had different surgery, but the swelling got the best of me too, but that will subside eventually. My surgery was on March 5th and yesterday was the first day the swelling was noticeably different when I moved around. I finally am feeling on the mend, so know that it will come even when it feels like forever. I actually broke my foot and ankle on Feb. 13th, so this is actually my second time dealing with swelling. I found icing the crap out of it helped me quite a bit too. The nurse at the surgery center said to put the ice behind my knee since my foot is so wrapped up to help with swelling. I was dubious, but it works. I also invested in a pillow that was made to elevate the leg as it took too much effort to constantly hold my leg comfortably on a stack of pillows. I got mine on Amazon.

    I have been put on aspirin 325 once a day for a month to help prevent blood clots. As for showering, I have a bathtub with a detachable showerhead and hose, so I put all but my hurt leg (which is wrapped in a trash bag) in the tub and use the shower attachment to "shower". This arrangement still keeps my ankle above my heart, so it doesn't bother me much. If you have a bathtub you can lower yourself in, I highly recommend this as feeling clean helps to feel better.

    I so wish you a speedy recover and know you are not alone on this journey. I have found this forum most helpful and the people are amazingly supportive even years after their original posts. Keep positive as best you can, you will find it gets easier as you get more used to your new "normal."


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    • Posted

      Thank you so much for your feedback and I am also sorry for your injury (s) as well! I am only 4 days behind you and appreciate you suggestions and support! A bit different from you but kinda the same; this is my 2nd major injury in less then a year. June 2019 I was forced off a the road by an on-coming car while on a training run....I was running on a quiet park road when it happened. I broke my tibia plateau, wrist, and thumb. It took me the entire summer to heal and I finally got back into form again when this happened....This time a large Pyrex fell off my kitchen counter and cut straight threw my leg where the muscle and tendon connect...How's that for luck?

      Good to know that it can take a good week for the swelling to go down...I get freaked out when I see my toes turn a weird red/purple color when I stand but now know it is normal. They return to a more normal color/presentation when elevated.

      The pain is getting much better but initially when the nerve block wore off it was off the charts! I am in a long cast for 3 weeks and then a short cast for another 3 weeks and then CAM walker etc....Total healing time will be 3 months and 6 months before i can engage in any type of sport....

      Per your suggestion, I ordered the leg wedge from Amazon and have a shower chair and cast cover...For now I am bathing near the sink but will "graduate" to the tub/shower..Missing a nice hot shower right about now!

      I'm still in the..."what happened?" space but will slowly adjust and get better. Thank you again for your response and best wishes to you for a speedy recovery!

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    • Posted

      My goodness that is some rotten luck! Glad your pain has gotten better! All the weird colors and sensations is what brought me here too, and boy am I glad I found this place! It has calmed me down so much.

      I was offered the nerve block, but chose to pass on it. My anesthesiologist said he could always apply it after the surgery if the pain was too great, so I rolled the dice. It hurt, but was tolerable after the surgery, and got better as the day went on. I took my meds exactly as I was told to stay ahead of the pain (programmed my phone to go off when I was suppose to take meds and what med I was to take at that time; went off every 3 hours those first 2 days) and felt confident to come off of the hard stuff 3 days after surgery. I am not even taking the Ibuprofen regularly anymore either, only once in a while. My only complaint now is that since the swelling has abated some, my splint doesn't fit as well and can sometimes rub my incision site. I go to the doctor on Tuesday to hopefully switch to a boot. Since it is my left ankle, I hope to get the okay to drive again. That would be nice. Was hoping to get back to work after next week, but I work in a school and schools are shut down in my state until March 30th at this point, so I guess it will be more couch time until then. I probably won't be weight bearing anyway.

      I think you will find the wedge pillow to be a life saver. I did end up putting a soft down pillow in mine to make it a little more comfortable, but it is nice not to have to engage leg muscles to balance my foot on a stack of pillows. I have read a few other posts where people have also ordered one as well.

      I don't know if there is a scooter that works for long casts, but when you get your shortened cast, I highly recommend it! Crutches make me nervous and I only use them when it makes the most sense. Otherwise I roll around with my wheels and use the attached basket. You make many 3 point turns and become an expert at backing up, but so worth it. Definitely get one with brakes, it makes a difference!

      I so wish you a quick recovery! That seems so unfair to have to do this recovery thing twice so close together, but I will be sending you healing vibes! I am surprised how quickly I have adapted to this new normal. I even vacuumed, dusted and wiped down my kitchen and livingroom yesterday. I have never been so happy and grateful to do housework, lol! I know you will be moving around very soon feeling like you are on the mend. Until then, you have all of us to lean on!


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    • Posted

      Hey There...I am much more calm now thanks to all the great information and support..I thought something was seriously wrong with my toes when I stood up..I am feeling alot of things that the doctor did not warn me about but after the fact he confirms its all normal..So helpful to hear others experiences.

      I totally understand about not getting the nerve block. I actually did not want the nerve block and really fought my doctor on it but in the end I agreed..I hate the idea of not being able to feel or move anything from the knee down; feels like you are paralyzed. It was longer lasting for me, so for the first 48 hours I had no pain and could not feel anything or move my toes. Not sure if I would elect to have one again should the need arise; I'd rather feel the pain. Good luck with the boot on Tuesday! Is it a CAM walker? I drive a manual and damaged my left ankle so no driving for a long time; hope you are able to drive soon..

      I can't wait to get the wedge pillow and I think my husband will be as happy as me cuz I am always asking him to adjust my pillows because they are always falling over.. I do have a scooter but I cant use it quite yet because it places too much pressure on the surgical incision on my lower leg. It does have breaks and looks to be alot better then the crutches I am currently using.

      I am a Psychologist and was planning on returning to work in a couple of weeks, but not sure if that is an option because of the virus. Feeling so isolated because of all of this and then not being able to return to work makes it even harder. I empathize with you!

      Good for you to be able to do some housework! The mobility must feel refreshing and a sign that you are healing!

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  • Edited

    Hey there..

    I had ankle surgery after fracturing my fibula.

    I am 2 months post surgery.

    I was a gym freak before this happened, so I understand how hard this must be for you too.

    The first three days after surgery were the worst.. I could feel like a sharp pain from the incision side. But, after a few days the pain decreased whilst taking regular pain medication, and keeping it elevated. I noticed a significant decrease in pain and discomfort around 2 weeks after surgery at the time of my stitches removal. My toes were the same, they would go purple if I'd get up, go numb and swell up really easily. For you, it is still early days after surgery so it sounds all normal!

    I brought an elevation pillow from Amazon, so much easier than trying to position pillows comfortably.

    As for showering, the first few days after surgery, I'd sit on a stool and use a bucket of water and wash myself down with a shower puff and wet flannel.

    However, I then invested in a shower chair and have placed that inside my shower, it is so much easier to shower now sitting down. I had to stick my foot out the door because I was advised not to get the plaster wet, so I covered it in a black bin bag!

    I rarely take pain medicine now. Only if absolute necessary but just have faith the pain will decrease.

    I used to wrap an ice pack around my plaster, and it actually helped decrease the swelling.

    hope you have a speedy recovery!

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    • Posted

      Thank you for your reply and suggestions. Its good to hear things will eventually settle down. Today is 6 days post op and I am definitely feeling better but still having some burning pins/ needles in foot and toes when up and about; even when elevated.

      I have the shower chair and pillow wedge and alot of soft gel ice packs. I'm in a plaster cast but still place the ice on top and under my knee. Today was the first time I used the shower chair and was able to wash my hair (long!) and my foot tolerated it fairly well.. Small things have become quite important now!

      I feel your pain!,II am just so missing working out and am trying to focusing on things I can control for optimal healing. If I look too far into the future I get discouraged; like can I run competitively again, will have have strength and mobility on the tennis court? My ortho is a sports guy so I feel I am in good hands. I can work on upper body strength while healing.

      Are you back to the gym yet? Best to you in your continued healing.

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  • Edited

    Sorry to hear about your accident same here rushing around ran down carpeted stairs in my house and slipped on last two stairs and the rest is history

    Broke my ankle in 3 places

    Now onto your situation

    I used pain meds first day or two Honestly I had very little pain after surgery Everyone told me to stay ahead of the pain so that is why I used pain meds in beginning Plus it makes me nauseous

    i did baths from my sink in the bathroom filled with warm water and washed that way for a few days

    I used my rolling office chair to get around kitchen, bathroom and bedroom Really helped I'd stand on my good foot and wash up

    Then I got Shower chair I hear ya about showering It was a lot of prep work getting in and out

    Everything was more difficult

    Id say first 4-5 weeks are worst Then it starts to get better and slow but sure you do heal

    Best of luck to you

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  • Edited

    I had surgery on Feb 13 and was told no weight on my ankle until at least April 8 minimum. Showering is out of the question, not to mention that our showers are upstairs. My wife and I have a nightly ritual to keep up my personal hygiene. I miss my daily shower so much, but my wife helps me keep clean and change my clothes. I do take a daily 81mg aspirin daily as well as extra strength Tylenol every 8 hours. We purchased a knee scooter which works better than hopping on 1 foot with a walker. Word to the wise......Lock the brakes before mounting and dismounting or you will fall! Other than that, I am living out of our recliner waiting for 8 weeks to pass and trying to stay positive like you . You are not alone.

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  • Edited

    So sorry for your accident! I too, had a freak fall in my house! Felt like an idiot but it happened.

    The pain will subside. You are so new to this, its normal. If you see changes in your surgical site, call your surgeon .

    In the beginning I would back my scooter up in the bathroom and literally bath from the sink. Not easy but there was no other choice as my tub was to low to the ground! As I healed we bought the leg / foot cover for the shower! Life saver!!

    I also was gifted a grabber! LOL Funny now but when something drops and your in a recliner and alone, it came in handy!

    A basket for your things you want to have on your scooter from room to room when your ready. Its amazing the things your so used to doing and then you realize your hands are busy balancing for you!

    An asperin a day prescribed by the doc. for 6 weeks.

    Oxy with Tylenol / Ibruprophen 800 were my meds given to me and I used them every 4 and 8 hours! I thought I was a wimp taking them and when I saw my doc he said "Take them and stop feeling like a wimp!" Everyone's pain levels and what they can handle are different, so don't beat yourself up if you need them.

    The nerve block either wears off with in 8 hours or 12, 16 and so on... you're perfectly normal.

    Amazon will be your friend for things you need! A wedge to put your ankle up... keep it up there. That was another life saver especially in bed trying to sleep!

    And cut yourself some slack! You just had surgery and should only be worrying about resting, sleeping and resting! And have lots of people take care of your needs.

    Best of luck to you!

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  • Posted

    I broke my leg last april, and blew out most of the ligaments. Non-weight bearing for six weeks, but it took a full 9mths to resume all pre-injury high-impact activities (running, ice hockey).

    Couple of things that worked for me:

    • slowly lowering the leg rather than just dropping it down, sometimes even brining it down and then up again, and then down and up, helped the pain of the blood rushing suddenly down not be as intense.
    • Bath in Bed wipes. I used them in the hospital and they sent me home with a package. They helped the first few weeks while I was staying with family and there was a toilet downstairs but not a full bathroom. I used the wipes, and then my sister took me to a hairdresser friend who washed my hair at her salon. Then also visited other family with a downstairs full bathroom, and used a plastic outside chair to sit on in the shower.
    • I think I was on the good pain meds (oxy) for the first week, then I went to paracetamol w codiene forte for a few days, then paracetamol for a while. I was med free by week 3, except I would take some ibuprofen if I was leaving the house and knew I would be having my foot down a lot in the car. Ibuprofen while good for swelling isnt the best for fracture healing and not great at all for stomachs long term so I tried to avoid during the first few weeks.
    • I was on daily clexane shots (self administered) while non weight bearing to reduce the risk of clots. My abdomen was so so bruised up.
    • The first few weeks I just watch a lot of tv and slept. It was actually when I started the transition back to weight bearing that the depression set in. I think it had a lot to do with being cleared to do it, but not actually being able to, and realising how much muscle tone I had lost and it got very real and hard! I kept a journal and would write down every tiny achievement "walked 5 steps unaided today" "walked 7 today" "balanced for 3 secs on right leg" etc. this really helped to look back on the hard days and see how quick I was actually progressing and how far I had come.

      It took me about two weeks to go from non-weight bearing to fully unaided, no boot walking.

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    • Posted

      Thank you for your detailed message; very much appreciated. Just 8 months prior I broke my tibial plateau, wrist, and thumb in a training run accident.. The breaks were not displaced so I didn't need surgery, but it was 4 months till I was back to running/hiking/tennis. I feel like I had just gotten into shape again and then a freak accident in the kitchen severed the tendon in my lower leg/ankle.

      I am 8 days post op today and my pain had gone down quite a bit and was doing okay on Motrin / Tylenol with an occasional Tramadol. Then yesterday I banged my cast twice and now the pain is up again with more pins/needles/pressure when standing. I'm back on Oxycodone which I am not happy about but can't heal if I can't sleep or am constantly in pain. I try not to beat myself up about needing pain meds.. It's going to be at least 6 months till I can begin sports again..All I do is sit with my leg elevated and try to do a few productive things throughout the day...I can feel myself losing muscle tone and strength as each day passes. I bought an arm cycle that I will use once I can be up without the burning pain and pressure...I will find ways to stay healthy and fit but the idea that my entire Spring and Summer is pretty much going to be swept away with healing is tough to reconcile.

      I really like your idea of slowly lowering your leg and it has helped with that insane pressure/burning/purple toe issue. Also, keeping a detailed journal is something that I have always done and think it is even more important now so thanks for sharing that as well. I can certainly understand feeling depressed once you are cleared but still having issues and the realization of how much fitness and strength you lost.

      Guess I have to give my self time and adjust my come-back /recovery expectations in such a way that my goals are realistic. Thanks again for feedback and best to you in your continued healing.

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  • Posted

    It is surprising to me that the majority of you are taking ibuprofen (Advil). I was previously taking Advil and then Diclofenac Sodium (Voltaren) for my arthritis pain, but my doctor said that it inhibited bone growth. So it's extra strength Tylenol every 8 hours and my 81mg daily.

    I really liked the Voltaren and look forward to taking it again after this is all over.

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    • Posted

      Thanks for your reply. So yeah, my ortho did talk about that and recommended Advil just for first week or so while in the very early stage of healing; risk vs. reward. I actually do have Voltaren cream which was helpful for my Tibia Plateau fracture but I cannot use it post ankle/tendon repair as I am casted and have stitches. Definitely something to consider in a few weeks. Hope you heal well!

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