Second Achilles Tendon Tear Repair Surgery within 6 months

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Hi all, I am new to your boards and hoping for some advice because right now I just feel so alone and depressed. I had my first Achilles Tendon tear repair surgery on 6/30/16 with also a case of Bursitis. We arent sure exactly how i tore it because the first doctor misdiagnosed it saying it was only Tendinitis and it was not. My surgeon chose to go in through small incisions the first time. I had started PT around week 3 to get the inflammation and scar tissue to help heal. I was in walking boot and using a cane which my therapists told me to use because my doctor never said i needed it nor crutches. It is my right ankle and at around week 5 I was told I could drive eventhough my therapists didnt think it was a good idea. I didnt have much help with family so I only drove to therapy and to work when i went back. As time went on I went to therapy 3 times a week and started having neck and back problems which i never did before. I had to start seeing a spine specialist because being in the boot for so long started affecting everying. We had to start addressing these new problems in PT. When i started to try to transition out of the boot I started having more pain and did not feel comfortable in sneakers. I kept on telling everyone something was wrong and my surgeon kept on saying how much better it looked. He tried mutliple Prolotherapy shots, meds, whirl pool etc and I begged him for an MRI because i was getting worse instead of better. When it was finally approved it showed i had a 6 mm tear in my ankle. My doctor did not want to do another surgery because he felt he could heal it the non-invasive approach. I gave him time for this and then in December i couldnt live like this anymore and begged him to do the second surgery knowing he would be opening it and using stem cell grafts. I didnt care anymore because my way of life felt like it was declining. I had been in a boot since 6/30 and was tired and needed my life back. On 12/22 i had my second surgery and eventhough he kept on telling me how small the tear was he said they fixed it and used two grafts to help it heal. Also, i went to a neurologist beforr he finally agreed to surgery because he wanted to make sure there was not nerve damage which there was not.

I have been non-weight bearing since surgery and yesterday was my second day back at PT. I absolutely adore my therapists, they have been angels in my life that have kept me going. I also love my surgeon who my family sees too but he said after surgery that if this doesnt feel better when it is healed, he is blaming it on my back. I disagree with this as my therapists do too. I know that a surgeon does not like having to go in and do a second surgery and i even apologized for this but i felt this was the only thing left to do which everyone agreed with me. I have been overly stressed with it in my head that if i dont feel better that what is wrong with me? I dont know if this makes sense but i feel very alone and worried. I do have pain still but i know it is still healing and will tske time because it is very sensitive where the stitches were. I am trying to go back to back to work next Wednesday but i dont know if i should take one more week off. I see my dr 2/10 for my next appt and he feels i should be out of the boot by then which i dont see happening. I am also using crutches which i have been since they found the new tear. Since the first surgery, i have lost 32 pounds which i am proud of, the only good thing lately.

I am sorry to write so much, i only have my physical therapists who understand what i am going through and i am just hoping for advice from anyone who reads this. Im just so tired and just scared about things. I never knew one surgery would lead to all that has happened.

Thank you for listening.

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13 Replies

  • Posted

    Dear MSnflwr: 

    First, I feel badly for what you're going through - but when I tell you a little more about my own experience with even a partial tendon tear (the gluteus medius near the hip, from a storage bin collapsing under my dog and I two years ago) - it might put things in some perspective. For example, how the back can get painfully inv=14pxolved with anything else that's wrong in the leg, the foot, the anke, you name it. I wrote in to this group about a week ago, about the history of my situation, having been an avid jogger for years - and then after the partial tear, things just kept getting worse (not to mention that doctors only wanted to R/O a fracture, and never looked at the soft tissue until I pushed for it a year later myself - when the pain in my low back was throbbing everyday, and when weight-bearing on the L leg was unbearable (and though I'm tall, my weight is proportional to my height).Anyhow, having just seen another MD in the Spine Center at a major hospital, he strongly thinks that the storage bin collapse also caused my SI joint to rotate in some sort of compensatory way, given the 'mild, partial tendon tear' which was only looked at a year later (yet the mild rotation is certainly not helping reduce the pain with weight-bearing=14px). Sounds like this new MD might want to try to loosening any scar tissue which formed as a result, given that no other doctor ever ruled out a soft tissue problem in the tendon (only did the typical X-rays to R/O a fracture, which was not the case). OTOH, I'll know more next week about scar tissue affecting nearby. structures, as he's having a diagnostic radiological MD do an ultrasound of the area - but when this sort of throbbing pain disrupts sleep for so long, I'm truly surprised that no one looked at it more carefully a year ago. Too often, even Pain Management departments are like university football teams, making a lot of money, but not testing adequately - which I've alo understood they're not fully compensated for doing. Vicious cycle.

    I also understand your sense of depression with what seems like a never-ending cycle - and although mine was not an ankle tendon - I've come to learn what any tendon irritation can do to the back (which never hurt like this in my life - and I've been a daily 5-mile jogger, but now it's even hurting to put any weight on the L leg). One starts to wonder what to do if the pain is not manageable, as I don't think the human brain can bear it for too long - and then we do everything possible and don't see a difference.

    BTW, I somehow think that scar tissue is created after any kind of intervention, even PRP or prolotherapy - since our collagen response is activated, but in the wrong ratio to what tendons really need. I can truly see your issue resolving after the 2nd surgery  - even though all MDs seem to say that it may never have the same function as it did prior to the injury - but CAN at least get 75% better.

    If you have any thoughts, please feel free to write. Plus, after I read your post, I somehow sensed that it would be a REALLY good idea to take the extra week off from work - even though I never had tendon surgery. Still, I can relate to how even a partial tear affects so much in the local area AND in the back itself. Wow, our anatomy is so complicated. 

    Think positive thoughts, how does that sound !!!  Plus, if you find my first post, it might explain more about my own situation. Also wish I knew more about the Achilles tendon, but from what you wrote, it sounded so similar to how my hip tendon affected my back as well (and that was without surgery or a complete tear, so I can only extrapolate from it). -Annie

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    • Posted

      Hi Annie,

      Thank you so much for your reply and taking the time to read my super long blog! rolleyes lol It means a lot to me to have found you all on here and to know that I am not alone in how I am feeling and can talk to friends on these blogs.

      I am definitely going to look for your first blog like you mentioned but I am so sorry for what you have been through too. That sounds like so much and it makes me feel bad for what you have been going through. You are so right, our anatomy is so complex, oh my gosh. It's weird to think how somethings can be connected when you never imagined they could be in the first place. When my dr didn't really want to do the second surgery I told him I would be ok with the fact if I was never 100% later when it healed because I felt like anything would be better than what I was living with from the second tear.

      I am going to call him Monday and see about staying out one more week. I feel guilty doing this to my work when we have a lot of things going on but if I don't take care of myself I know I could be set back again and that scares me. I just miss the old me, I know she is still there but this version is just tired and like my physical therapists always told me that this could be like a roller coaster and there will be ups and downs. I understand that a lot more now than I did. They were so excited to see me my first day back on Tuesday which made me feel good. They literally have been my biggest cheerleaders and even though we have to start all over again with PT, I am grateful for them everyday.

      Thank you so much for showing me that I am not alone with these surgeries and how I am feeling. It is so nice to have made friends on here who care and take the time to talk to me about their experiences and just be there. Means a lot to me very much.

      I hope you feel better too and I will keep you all updated. Please know that I am here too if you need someone to talk to. Thank you. smile

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  • Posted

    Dear Sunshine

    Sorry to hear about your injury! You most definitely are not alone. I completely understand where you are coming from as I ruptured my Achilles in April 2016 and was feeling the same even with people around me.

    The first thing I was suggest is take your time which I cannot emphasise enough. The last thing you want it to rush back to work or any other activity and be put back another 3 months. I only went back to work after 4 months and this was still with one crutch and driving an automatic!

    Out of curiousity are you in the U.K. as if you are in London I can suggest some places to go due to the excellent care I received?

    If you are really having issues I would get a second opinion from another doctor/consultant as they should be listening to you and your needs first!!

    Regarding the pain near the stitches just make sure you are taking care of the area and once it has fully scabbed start applying a litttle oil. This also works wondered by gently massaging it into you foot and calf just be gentle around the injured area. It will really help it feel better.

    Overall I would say this is literally one step at a time. You cannot rush with this injury but trust me it will get better! Time and perseverance and follow what your PT tells you! They are usually great and keep you motivated!!!

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    • Posted

      Thank you so much for your reply. It means so much to me to be able to talk to others who have gone through or know what I am going through. It's so hard when family and friends just don't understand and make you feel like it's in your head. But going through all this this past year, I have had to really try to listen to my body and be more vocal in what I would try and what I felt needed to be done.

      Aww I wish I lived in the UK! I actually live in the US but I thank you so much for the possible recommendations. smile

      That makes a lot of sense about the area because once he took the banadages and sutures off a week ago he said to put some Vaseline on it and when I did it actually got irritated. My therapist was the one that noticed it and told me to put a little around the area until the scabbing comes off because I didn't know it was hurting it. He also told me to put a bandage over it when I do because my socks were also irritating the area. I had no idea it would feel so sensitive and I think that is what scares me at times because it didn't feel like that the first surgery. But then I never had this many stitches before and was also reminded that the skin was opened up a lot more this time since it was an open surgery. I will definitely get oil too because I didn't think about that and the rubbing area you mentioned. That helps me so much.

      It's amazing how it feels at times the therapists can give me so much more advice than my doctor does. I have to learn to be more patient with myself because even though the second tear wasn't my fault, I blamed myself that this happened. I guess I felt I did something wrong even though I have done all that I have been told to do. I am going to talk to my dr on Monday and see if I can stay out one more week. Since I started PT and have only been twice, I feel so weak and I want to feel a little stronger before going back. Before I went through all of this, I even had two jobs suprisingly but I am on a leave at my second job.

      Thank you again so much for reading my long story and your wonderful advice and support. Grateful I am not alone anymore and I have friends on here. smile

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    • Posted

      Your welcome!!

      Will just take time so keep motivated and take one step at a time! It will make you stronger, trust me!!

      Best wishes!!

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  • Posted

    Sunshine,

    Thatis such a bummer!  You are not really alone. As you can see from this blog, there are many folks who have had this injury and all kinds of experiences on their journey towards healing. I can understand how weeks wit no weight bearing and in boot can affect back and hip.  Despite all the experiences--some have had an easier time and some more difficult--eventually people do heal, and get their lives back. I am sure you will as well.  Even pro athletes can take a year or more to regain their capabilities.  Take it one day at a time--It seems like there are periods of small incremental improvements with occasional leaps and occasional minor setbacks.  You seem to be doing all the right things--pushing on your doc, taking PT seriously. You are certainly not alone; there are people on this blog from all over the world who DO understand the trials and tribulations of recovering from an Achilles injury. 

    Hang in there, check back often, know that you WILL recover.  All the best for a complete and speedy recovery.

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    • Posted

      Hi Rob,

      Thank you so much for your reply and taking the time to read my long message. Just to know that I am not alone anymore in this has made me feel better. It's been amazing to read these blogs and to read about others experiences. I didn't know how common it was for people to have a second surgery like mine within such a short amount of time.

      I have to be more patient with myself and stop thinking this was my fault for some reason. That was a big thing for me because not knowing much about the Achilles before all of this happened I just kept on thinking I did this somehow but I have followed everything from my therapists from the beginning and my dr. My therapists were so excited for me to come back on Tuesday, they also felt that I should have had the second surgery to have it fully be able to heal. I know I have to start all over again in the PT process but one day at a time. smile

      Thank you so much, I am so grateful for these boards and to feel I have friends to talk to now on here. Means a lot to me to know i am not alone in this anymore. smile

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    • Posted

      Hang in there, Sunshine. The injury is certainly not your fault. There will be days you will wonder if this discomfort, walking funny , tingling will ever end. The worst of it will slowly fade.  Recovery seems to go a little more quickly once you get some mobility back. Every little obstacle you overcome (for me it was figuring out how to take a cold beer from the fridge to the next room while on crutches) is a little victory. 

      Best wishes!  Check in any time. You will find plenty of folks who are going through something similar. Also, there will be new folks with new injuries looking for advice on surgery, not surgery, how to cope with the incapacity, and that helpless feeling that washes over you sometimes. You will be able to help them as well.  

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    • Posted

      Thank you so much Rob, you definitely put a smile on my face. Especially about when you accomplished bringing a beer into the other room with the crutches. smile You are so right and I have to remember I won't feel like this forever. Sometimes at those down times you just sometimes forget what those good days feel like.

      Thank you so much for being there.

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  • Posted

    Hi Sunshine,

    After reading your post I just wanted to say, you are Definately not alone.  Having said that, I think there are moments where we all feel that way.  It is a very frustrating and long recovery road and blogs like this one make it more bearable. I still have days where I sit and cry and think "Why?" 

    Congrats ts on your weight loss, that is a positive for you.  

    I am am only week 5 of my recovery journey so I don't really have any advice except stay positive.  I know this is easier said than done, I struggle at times.  It does get better and I find that focusing on the little achievements keeps me going.  Baby steps.  I have never taken time in life to slow down and smell the roses, now I appreciate just getting outside and seeing them smile

    I wish you all the best with your injury, remember there is always someone to talk to on this blog.

    Take care and I am sure we will talk soon smile

     

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  • Posted

    Hi Sunshine, 

    Just an 'addendum' to what I wrote the other day, but if I may ask, how did your Achilles tendon get injured the first time? I tend to think these issues arise from sports injuries, but I shouldn't assume that - so if you have some time, please let me know. I also understand how we can blame it on ourselves, even though we make the best decisions possible at the time (like me with the storage bin which collpased, and thus how I should have put throw pillows in it to preclude that - but if I thought it was at all possible, then I surely would have. Even our thoughts make us feel worse, not just the injury, but that's how retrospective thinking must work!

    Thinking of you, -Annie

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    • Posted

      Hi Annie,

      I am sorry that I didn't get to reply to you sooner.  We really aren't sure how I injured it the first time, all I know is the first doctor misdiangosed it so I think it got worse with me trying to walk on it.  I remember when he went in the first time he said he had no idea how severe the rupture or tear was and also was dealing with Bursitis.  I am not athletic, wish I was but I think it was a mixture of things that led to this, medications that later found out affect bone loss, etc.

      All I know is this time I am suffering a depression that I have gone to see my therapist about.  My phyiscal therapists took the boot away from me on Wednesday because I have been in one for 10 months now and the damage it has done to my back and neck and hurting my ankle more.  I know to anyone this will sound stupid but it was a traumatic experience for me when he took it away.  I wanted to at least have it in my car or near me but I have been in PT since July and he has come to know me very well and I probably would still be wearing it.  I am trying to come to terms with walking in sneakers now but I am down to using a cane.  However, I have had continous bleeding where the stitches were and no one knows why this is happening.  It makes me not want to try to go forward because when I do, I feel like I take so many steps backwards.  I am just tired and I feel like each day is a struggle because I am in pain and I am not at the point of where others would be at this time.  I told my therapist I know why he took the boot away and one day I will thank him for it but I told him I am not at that point to be able to say that to him. I just don't know how to deal with the pain and be able to not worry about hurting it again.

      Any advice you could give me would greatly help, thanks for listening Annie.

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  • Posted

    Dear Sunshine24 (or should I say "Partly Cloudy" today) -- I am saddened to hear your fear about rehurting the injury, although I can relate to your fear and anxiety. Seems that all humans have some tendency in this way, and so we're not alone, even though it often feels that way. BTW, if some bone meds were aggravating bone loss, were you on them because of osteopenia or because the doctors thought they might strengthen the surrounding structures of your Achilles tendon?

    I've recently learned that my partial (high-grade) gluteus medius tendon tear is actually referring a throbbing pain to my spine area - but which is really not spine related. So this must corroborate that old song about how the thigh bone is connected to the hip bone, etc. - but I realize that staying hopeful when we're plain worried is not easy. OTOH, there are only two options: keep working hard or the human spirit is compromised, yet I of course understand that they're not necessarily mutually exclusive. I've never worn a boot, but I can grasp the notion of something to help you be safer from reinjuring something so pivotal in terms of functioning.

    Then I try to tell myself that in physical therapy (for this referred throbbing back pain from the injured hip tendon), maybe I must be willing to allow some deeper physical massage to eventually get to 'the other side' of a thinned tendon and its related musculature (due to ongoing pain and not using it as much). I also find it hard to accept not being the dedicated athlete I always was, and accepting even a 50% reduction in pain if that's actually possible - but the human brain must be open to any reduction in suffering, right? I have a strong feeling that without your boot, you will actually find some strength in that mode of healing from here on !!!

    We humans are supposed to be adaptive to injuries and changes, but I'm not that good at it either. OTOH, maybe we can encourage each other, so feel free to share your worries, as I certainly don't judge anyone for experiencing some worry and fear, or you name it. So please write whenever the need hits, as I'm a writer by profession as well (grants, dissertations, and the like), so I actually enjoy it - even though as I'm sitting here at my computer, my low back area is throbbing away. 

    Hope to hear from you soon, and a remote hug is coming your way, -Annie

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