I fully ruptured my Achilles' tendon six weeks ago...when does it end?

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Hi Folks!  I realize this site is for patients in the uk but every time I go online I seem to end up here so I thought I'd join the group!

I am a 39 year old female and I ruptured my Achilles while playing volleyball. I wish I could say I made an awesome play but my Achilles didn't let me make it to the ball.  As I was moving towards the ball I heard a pop and looked down to see what had landed on me!  Sure enough there was nothing there.  I made my way to the ER where I sat for seven hours. I was told that I had partially ruptured my Achilles and was put in a splint and given crutches. An MRI was scheduled and I would go to see the ortho doctor a week later.  

At my first ortho appointment I was informed that I had FULLY ruptured my Achilles and that the splint I had been wearing for a week had been put on incorrectly in that my toes were not pointing down. The doctor suggested a non-surgical approach. I was put in a plaster cast with toes pointed down for three weeks.

After three weeks I returned to ortho to have cast removed and to start wearing my walking boot. The boot had five wedges in it and I will be removing one wedge every two weeks.

With it being week six of my recovery I am currently down to four wedges.  

I had assumed that once I was in the walking boot I would be able to walk!  But this doesn't seem to be the case.  I have gradually stopped using the crutches when I am home.  If I know I am going to need to walk a little further than from room to room I still use one crutch.

So now that I've shared where I am at, here are some of my concerns or questions...

1) Does anybody else find it difficult to walk with the boot? What about standing?  I find my good leg is hurting because of the extra weight I am putting on it when I stand and my good foot/heel hurts.  Does it get easier as you remove wedges?

2) My foot turns really purple when I've taken it out of the boot and stood to shower.  Is this ok?  It does return to a more normal colour if I elevate it for a couple minutes so I haven't been too worried.

3) How soon did you return to work? I'm a teacher and I have not yet returned.  Originally it was because of the crutches but now it's more because I can't imagine being on my feet for seven hours and moving from student to student. Plus there is the fear of being bumped.  

4) Looking ahead to being done with the boot...what's it like to walk with shoes on your feet and having no muscle in your calf?  Does physio hurt?

Thanks for letting me get this off my chest!  Good luck to everyone who is going through this and congrats to those of you who have been there done that!

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  • Posted

    Hi there,

    Similar to yourself mine was a sports injury. No surgery and in the boot from day 2.  Because my job is a physical one I cannot see myself returning to work within the next 9 months at best and being 65 I may never go back but am not thinking in those terms, so am staying positive.  I am only 3 weeks into my journey so have yet to take the first wedge out.  It is very awkward walking about with the boot which is a problem for me because I have a dodgy back so I tend to use the crutches most of the time at the moment.

    The purple foot thing is probably because its on too tight.  This happened to me early on but have just slackened the straps off a touch and have been fine since.  I cannot comment on the physio side of things because that is yet to come but I am prepared for the pain if that is what its going to take to get back to 100% shape.

    From the comments I have read on this website and various articles I have read (internet) it seems a lot depends on your consultant in terms of whether he specialises in these types of injuries and how much experience they have.

    Anyway, good luck with it and keep us up to date on how you are doing but I am getting used to the idea that its going to be a long haul.

    All the best,

    Chris    

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    • Posted

      Hi Chris,

      Long haul is right and like you said it's best not to think of it that way.  I find thinking to my next follow up helps and or looking forward to my "wedgie" day.

      Its hard not being at work when mentally you could do it but physically its too much. Plus getting better needs to be the priority!

      take care!

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  • Posted

    7 months in, 65yr male, walking across a field (at night, from a bonfire) and stumbled. Conservative treatment, 4 weeks in a boot, toes down with no weight bearing, 5 weeks of gradual wedge removal and gradual weight bearing with crutches. Back at work (sedentary) at week 5. Boot off, foot elevated at week 6 in the evenings, wiggly foot and gentle stretches with elastic staps.

    1 Walking with the boot is tedious and painful on the other leg and hip.. all the weight is wrong. It gets a bit easier, but you cant bend the ankle and that means any walking is an odd gait.

    2 No purple foot, but its still swollen if I dont elevate it a bit. I'm driving 5 hours this weekend, and I'll be taking one shoe off!

    3 The place I work was very accomodating.. work at home then gradual return to work, with foot up some of the time.. not sure in your case though.

    4  Out of the boot at week 11. VERY nervous at first but soon got confidense back. No pain, but foot/heel still a bit numb. Calf muscle is STILL very weak, and thats not helping the walk. I can do 5 miles now, but its hard going. No pain at physio, in fact STOP IF IT HURTS he said! I was told 1 week in the boot takes 6 week to recover strength in the calf....Its tedious, frustrating but it DOEWS GET BETTER, honest!

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    • Posted

      hi Tim!

      i think my jaw dropped when I read your comment about recovery time for the calf muscle. Was too scared to do the math on that one!

      good luck with your drive.  I did a one hour drive yesterday and if wasn't too bad there but could feel it a little on the way back!  Looking forward to things getting better!

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  • Posted

    I ruptured my achilles almost a year ago (3rd april) , I was undiagnosed for four weeks so couldn't have surgery, some are for it , some against, I had 3 casts, 1 for 2 days, 1 for 2 weeks and 1 for 4 weeks , then a boot for 6 weeks. I am 56 I have always danced and exercised,I found recovery very slow even though I worked very hard at physio and pilates, these definately helped, I returned to work after 7 months at home, I was still on crutches. I also have a physical job and was told I couldn't lift anything for 6 months, I still find standing still very tiring and I have a limp when I walk unless I think about every step and slow down. When the tendon was fully healed the swelling stopped. A lot of people have said on this forum they have had a rapid recovery, I have spoken to a group of people who have had the same injury and my physio they all say the same thing it's a serious injury and it takes 18months - 2years. I understand this feels like a blow, but a year in I am happy with my progress , I have good days and bad days, in four weeks time I'm off to New York and really excited, I have decided to really listen to my body and do my absolute best. I have found slow and steady is sure to win, if you overdo it you will get tired, if you don't do enough your leg will stiffen, so find your limits and get a mini exxercise bike  you can use it everyday, start at 5 minutes and low resistance and build up. I hope some of the comments help, I will listen out for your news. Good Luck!!
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    • Posted

      Thanks odette!

      i know slow and steady is the way to go and I keep reminding myself of that!  Considering you too are an active person I'm sure you can imagine how hard it is to be doing so little.  Trying to use the...it is what it is approach!  Enjoy your trip. In was there in October....busy place but totally awesome experience!  

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    • Posted

      P.S.  I'm not sure how long you are going and what your plans are but I would recommend the city pass.  Also if you plan on going to the Empire State building and there is a line formed outside...don't go!  There's even more lines inside...we ended up going around midnight!
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    • Posted

      Thanks Bec! I am going for 2 weeks we are staying with friends in New Jersey, we will try to do all the tourist stuff first in case my leg fails, but will take it slow, stop and read have picnics etc can't really queue for very long but will give the rock a go.
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  • Posted

    I had a complete rupture tried the non surgical route and 18 months later it was no better so I had surgery nearly 4 weeks ago and seeing the results already ,I'd say take each day as it comes and don't rush things, good luck with your recovery x
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    • Posted

      thanks Mary!  Glad you are seeing results this time around.  Bummer you had to wait so long!  Guess I do t need to tell you to hang in there because obviously you have been!
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  • Posted

    Hi Bec I am 16 weeks in 10 days cast 8 weeks boot , I too have pain still on my good leg from the weight distribution , but it's getting better as I limp a bit less , I was off work for 3 months and phased return I am now back to full hours which is 22.5 a week and it was ok but I do get to sit a lot , I had to keep boot on to shower and sleep but I still get a purple foot in the shower but it goes after a bit . I drove after third week out the boot and was short distances , now it feels fine but I don't have to travel far , mainly running kids around , it does take time as calf muscles are weak . Target is to do a calf raise with bad leg and a Florida trip later in the year is my walking target , oh I also bought a knee scooter to help me get around when I had boot on and just after , it was great in house and out , great for getting round shops , check it out drive medical knee scooter , good luck
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    • Posted

      thanks kmg!  It amazes me how long this recovery process is!  People see you in the boot and figure you are good to go!
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  • Posted

    hey! i ruptured my achilles right in half about over a month and a 1/2 ago. at my school there is like a 3 inch drop of the doors i was walking out of, i walked out the left door and a friend walking somewhat behind me walked out the right door and swong it open and hitting the back of my ankle and causing it to completely slice my achilles tendon in half, only hanging on to the other part of my tendon by a 3 mm section of it.i went to the hospital the day it happened, and the doctors rushed me in and out of the er saying it was fine, gave me 4 stitches to sew the skin back together and ordered me to stay off of it and gave me crutches. they didnt even give me a plaster cast to hold my ankle, they just let it dangle... about a week and a 1/2 later, it was about 6 am, i was in an immense amount of pain causing my severe anxiety to act up and to wake me up and being rushed to the hospital. we went and immediately they did the thompson test and said oh definitely it is severed in 1/2. they placed me in a plaster cast and gave me pain killers and sent me on my way. since then i was advised to take the surgery route and i have been in recovery ever since. i was just put in a boot with 2 wedges 4 days ago.

    now to answer your questions (bc i have asked ny dr the same ones!)

    1.) most definitely yes! im trying so hard to be mobile again, but it's difficult.

    2.)yes it's totally normal its just bc its not used to the restricted blood flow

    3.) i retured to school about a week after surgery (considering im 16 it's probably different) but I ended up having to quit my job, because i was a nanny and i had to drive and it was my right ankle so that was definitely not happening!!!!

    4.) i haven't experienced this yet and dont plan on it for a while!!

    i know youre a teacher and im so sorry for the bad grammarwink

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    • Posted

      hi alexmarie

      to show your grammar didn't bother me I'm just going to type away and if my message is autocorrected so be it but if not oh well!  Needless to say no need to apologize I'm off work and trying not to think about it.

      i do believe the surgery route gives you a head start in your recovery. I'm impressed that you were vs k to school so quickly. I'd like to go back to work but I'm not the type of teacher that just sits at her desk and the mobility just isn't there yet.  I've been warned to be prepared for some tough pt.  hope everything continues to heal for you.

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    • Posted

      2BEC13,

      once i got my pain under control it was pretty well, i do recommend getting a knee scooter, they are so so much easier than crutches and most come with a little basket. i hardy ever use crutches now unless im doing tasks at home where i dont have to carry things, but the knee scooter was a life saver, boots, casts and plaster casts tend to get very heavy and i can go to the mall and go anywhere for longer periods of time without being tired or in pain. i had a teacher who had a knee scooter and she said it was so much easier and plus you can go and get paid !!! wink theyre so much safer too, bc you dont have the risk of people tripping you or anything. but the only con is if there is a place that isn't handicap accessible then there tends to be some difficulty. and its soooo much fun when youre on tile, laminate or wood floors bc i mean its a rolly scooter!!smile I recommend it so much its made my life so so much easier than with the crutches! and everyone gets jealous bc of your rad scooter! I really hope you take it into consideration even if you dont go back to work right away, it makes grocery shopping and everything else so much easier!

      -alex

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    • Posted

      oh i forgot to add:

      im totally not excited for pt, im just excited to be done and back to being able to perform again (as i am a toootalllyyy into the arts)! i hope your recovery is going superb! best wishes

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    • Posted

      Sounds brill the scooter but my doc says you can't hire them on NHS ,and they are expensive to hire ,or is my doc being a cheap skate ?
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    • Posted

      i live in America and it was $150 a month, which is about the equivalent to roughly £275, i totally forgot to add that in! it's really worth the price
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    • Posted

      Hi Mary,

      Yes you can't get them on the NHS but there are a couple of sights on the internet where you can hire them out.  ebay have a couple of used ones for sale as well.  Hope that helps.

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