Still in pain after Achilles surgery

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I had Achilles reconstruction surgery back on December 20, 2016. I'm still in pain almost 5 months later.

I'll give a little history. I started having heel pain in January 2016. Doctor told me I had tendonitis. I started with physical therapy and it unfortunately did not help. I wore a boot for 6 weeks (actually ended up being 3 months cause the Dr. told me to keep wearing it) and that didn't help either. Dr. referred me to another Dr. who does tenex procedure. I had that on August 8. While I was in therapy I ended up tearing my tendon. The Dr. referred me to a surgeon and that's when I decided on the surgery.

I was feeling great after the surgery (other than the pain that came along with it) I had my foot in a bandaged cast for 2 weeks. On New Year's Day I ended up losing my footing on crutches after a shower ( I only used crutches for showers, I had a scooter) and ended up landing on my foot and falling. I called the nurse the following day and she asked questions and said it didn't sound like I did damage. I was sore for a few days and then it seemed ok. I got my stitches out and was put in a plaster cast for 4 weeks. Most of the issue was swelling and soreness. After my cast came off I was put in a boot and told to do PT right away. I didn't get an appointment for almost 2 weeks later. I did non weight bearing exercises for a couple of weeks. My foot was so swollen I couldn't fit in my sneaker. I also couldn't walk without the use of crutches. When I could finally fit my foot in my sneaker I started weight bearing exercises and started walking without crutches about 2 weeks later. I did 8 weeks of therapy and the pain just kept getting worse. I have pain in my heel and I have pain in the tendon. It feels as it did before I had the surgery. I went back to my part time job over a month ago and went back to my full time job 2 weeks ago. Both jobs I'm on my feet. By the end of the day my foot is so swollen and bruised and I get sharp pains in my heel and in the tendon. I've been working shorter shifts and it still doesn't help. I put inserts in my shoes for heel and arch support and it helped at first withi not as much pain but I'm back to the bad pain. I've been in tears it hurts so badly. The Dr said to come back in 3 months if I'm still in pain when I went to my 3 month appointment. I'm just curious if anyone else has similar pains and symptoms. I was told I would have swelling for up to a year but I wasn't told I'd have sharp pains. I'm hoping I didn't tear it again.

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  • Posted

    Cindy,

    that really stinks. I had surgery almost 9 months ago, and my Achilles is way thicker than it was before the injury. When I overdo it, i still get a little swelling, stiffness, and some pain. Have had the sharp, shooters in the past, but not so much anymore. Still,have some numbness in heel and right side of foot. Sural nerve takes a beating with injury and surgery. It is responsible for the shooters and all kinds of other unpleasant sensations associated with the tendon, ankle and foot. 

    I hope you can get some relief, Goan get on a good path towards healing, and get this behind you.  Best wishes for recovery. 

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    • Posted

      Hi Rob,

      Thanks for replying. I also have a lot of stiffness. It's definitely better than it was. I need to work on stretching more often. I've been so busy with going back to both jobs and by the end of the day my foot is in so much pain I just want to get off of it. I was getting pain on the outside of my foot down by my small toe. That seems to have went away. I still cannot stand on my toes on my left foot yet. Have you mastered that part yet?

      I'm happy to hear you are doing well. That gives me a bit of hope that you had some of my symptoms and feel better now. Maybe I'm jumping the gun and should give it more time. Thank you for your thoughts and info. Best wishes to you as well.

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    • Posted

      I was working with physical therapist and was very surprised at how quickly I lost the strength in my foot and calf muscles. It has only been in the last few weeks that I have been able to do a few heel raises. Certainly nowhere near pre-injury. 

      I am no expert, but it seems that most people have a somewhat different experience with recovery, though there are some common themes.  Also seem to be as many treatment plans as there are injuries!  That was another surprise. Almost everyone experiences the heel pain and shooters, some level of persistent swelling, occasional breakthroughs and setbacks. Physical therapy and ice seem to bring some relief, but it seems to be a ver slow healing process-slower than a plain old bone fracture!  Patience and persistence.  

      Don't give up!  You WILL recover,

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    • Posted

      thank you for your insight. I also couldn't believe the amount of muscle I lost. My left leg was always my stronger leg and now it's completely weak. I lose my balance a lot, probably from a weak foot also. I still can't lower myself on my bad foot, I can raise up on toes on both feet but most of my weight is on my good foot. Also still tightness in the tendon. I can't squat and I still walk with a limp. The pain in the tendon is still there when I'm walking around a lot. When I get home at night my foot and ankle is swollen and my foot is bruised. It's a long and rough recovery. My job isn't very understanding about it so I think I'll be searching for something different.

      Good luck to you. Keep me updated on your progress as well. I'll try to update again soon

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    • Posted

      Hello, Cindy. You are right! After 9 months my surgical leg (particularly) calf is still noticably smaller than my other. Still have a little hitch in my giddy-up (limp), although it is not so noticable. I also still get some pain in different places around the ankle, although not so often these days. Also have some numbness in heel and along outside bottom of foot to toes. Mostly feels wierd when barefooted.

      Thanks for sharing that and hope your recovery goes swiftly and smoothly.

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  • Posted

    I'm 9 months post ATR Zan's I have pain every day! Still can't bear ANY weight on my toes and can only wear athletic shoes. It's a very slow process 😔

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    • Posted

      Hi Donna

      Sorry to hear you're still in pain. I tried putting inserts for heel and arch support. It felt good at first but I think they are already worn out. I'm going to look into some new sneakers as well.

      Do you still get the shooting pains in the tendon or is it pain from swelling? Or both? I have pain from both. I still walk with a limp. I don't have full range of motion in my foot yet. It's going to take a bit of time I suppose. Good luck to you. Keep me updated on your recovery

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    • Posted

      Yes cindy, I still get both types of pain and I still walk with a limp as well. I am still using a night splint because if I don't, I can barely walk in the morning! I have to keep that tendon stretched out constantly! I thought for sure that I'd be back to "normal" by now but nope. Sorry that you're still having pain as well! I'll let u know if I discover the miracle cure! I too have tried all kinds of heel cups, orthotic insoles, gel pads etc but nothing seems to help.

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  • Posted

    This pain is terrible! I'm 9 months post op ATR. Im on feet a lot at work as well. The shoes I can wear so far are the Dr Scholls clogs. My doc told me at first there was a band of nerves that were swollen so I did a a steroid shot. That was a temp fix. Then I was told it was scar tissue back in March.. the doc did this shock therapy. Ssoooo PAINFUL! I was in tears screaming so loud. I sounded like I was in labor. Im still in pain... I've been using a TENS unit which which has been helpful. My primary doc started me on Lyrica to see if my pain would decrease. It has helped a little. It's very painful to point my toe up but I stretch as much as possible. I'm afraid to return to my foot doc plus it's so expensive every time I return to him. I'm also concerned about having surgery all over again.. I've done so much research on this. I'm thinking about going for a second opinion.

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    • Posted

      Hi cilia! Sorry I haven't checked this thread in several months. How are you making out? Did you get the second opinion? I hope you're feeling better. 

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    • Posted

      Hi Cindy.. thank you for asking.  I’m doing better.  There are days I hurt but not like I used to.  I’m still trying to find the shoe for me.  I hope you are doing good as well.  
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  • Posted

    I'm going thru the same thing. I had surgery in July. Been out of work since March. Hoping all is well tomorrow when I see my doctor. But, its sharp burning pains I get on my heel

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    • Posted

      Hi Frances. How are you feeling these days? I must say I feel about 99% better. I just say that because I still get pain from time to time. Especially lately. I live in pa and it's been brutally cold. It's making everything hurt including my heel. Hope you're feeling better 

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  • Posted

    Hello, I just saw this thread today and thought I would jump in. I had surgery at the end of January 2017 for a torn Achilles tendon (not severed, and diagnosed via MRI)) and removal of a calcaneous heel spur which was causing the Achilles tear. I did the usual 10-14 days non- weight bearing, then PWB, and finally total weight bearing routine. I couldn't wear a shoe for approx 8 weeks after surgery due to inflammation. I had 4 weeks of PT which I didn't find very helpful. and I did at-home exercises. Up through mid-July, I was unable to do any toe curls for even a second. In mid-July, the doctor who operated told me to "get a really good pair of walking shoes" and to walk at least 1 mile, 3x a week, at 4-5 mph, to strengthen the muscles. First off, I am 66 yrs old, and I haven't been able to go that fast in 20 years, and that was when I was fully capacitated physically!  However, I purchased an excellent pair of shoes ( also the most expensive I have ever bought), and started walking. It has been 2 months of agony on my walks. I plod through at 3 mph at my fastest, and my pattern is "step-OW!-step-OW!-step-OW!). I still have a pain level of a solid 5, bordering on 6, when I walk, stiffness, and moderate to sharp pain. The back of my heel is normal looking from the point where it touches the floor, up to about an inch high. Continuing upward, there is a sharp demarcation point at which the tissue juts out a good half-inch. This spot corresponds to the area at the outer side of the healed incision. and is about 1-1/2 inches in diameter. If I press the area, it hurts, but the pain tends to move around. I went back to the foot doctor 5 days ago. On the "up" side, I can now raise up on my toes for a bit. However, I had the same old report to give him about pain when I walk, and additionally, going down stairs is still quite difficult. He x-rayed it AGAIN, said the inside is fine, and told me that he believes I have a buildup of scar tissue which is causing the pain and puffiness. He wants to do another surgery to "clean out" the scar tissue. He also said there is no guarantee that it will get better, but there's a good chance. This would entail the same recovery regimen as I mentioned above from the first surgery. I talked the matter over with my internist, and we both agreed that a second opinion is in order this time. I made an appointment with a very highly regarded and experienced orthopedic surgeon who specializes in foot & ankle surgery, but I cannot get in to see him for two months, so I have no choice but to wait it out. I am wondering, did anyone here need to have a second surgery to lessen pain or remove scar tissue after surgery, and did it help any? 

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    • Posted

      Hello barb. It's been 4 months since you posted this. How did everything go? Are you feeling better yet? Sounds like you had a bad recovery like myself. I had the same issues with inflammation and pain when I walked. I still have issues with steps these days and my calf muscle is still weak. But my pain is gone for the most part. I still get pain here and there.  So did you get the second surgery? I didn't need a second surgery but I have a thinkness where the incision was. I assume scar tissue. It doesn't bother me now and I'm hoping it stays that way. Well I hope you're feeling better by now and that you didn't need a second surgery 

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    • Posted

      Hi Cindy,

      Yes, I had another surgery in late January, one day short of a year since the first surgery. This time I asked my internist for the name of a top-notch surgeon and he hooked me up with an ortho surgeon who only does feet/ankles, and who travels the world teaching other ortho surgeons. This was a much more complex surgery, which involved the harvesting of another tendon and grafting it to my Achilles. After the surgery was finished, the new surgeon told my husband, "it was a real mess in there". The hardware which the first guy had used was just hanging off the tendon, and my Achilles was detached from the bone as well. No wonder I had pain! 

      I have been going through a long and very strict recovery regime; I still must wear a CAM boot up to my knee, and it's day 73. I go back to see the surgeon April 30 ( in 23 days )and hopefully will get cleared to start transitioning to a shoe. I must still wear the boot 24 hrs a day except to shower, and for part of my physical therapy 2x a week. I get around pretty well in it these days, but I take a cane along when I go out. I am just TIRED of dragging it around all the time! 

      The GOOD news is that I had no complications post-surgery, and this time I have no excess tissue at the back of my heel, and no more pain upon touching it, nor walking on it! Just a little soreness after PT, or after a long time on my feet. 

      Thanks for asking, I hope you are better now as well!

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