Week 10 in my Achilles rupture recovery was extremely important. Not only that some patients actually re-rupture the same Achilles during this period, but that this week brought some significant increase in ankle mobility. I am pretty happy with my Week 10 as prior to my physiotherapy sessions, I really wasn’t sure how much force I can safely exert on my healing tendons and muscles. Check out the ankle movement in this before and after video. Amazing right?
I am able to more comfortably walk without my Össur Rebound Air Walker boot. Here is how I am progressing at the end of week 9. This was before my first appointment with a physiotherapist so I am careful not to overdue things. You can see I am not bending at the knee much; in fact, I had to consciously tell my body that I can bend my knee in the last few steps. Many Achilles rupture patients will tell you rehab is a mental challenge as well; telling your body you can do certain things.
Lower calf and tendon area feels extremely tight. Both inside and outside ankle is still a little tender since having removed the second wedge from my boot for about 1 week now.
Walking before proper lengthening the tendon and strengthening the calf muscle can be risky. Re-ruptures may happen on a misstep but I am pretty careful and conscious of only walking slowly. It’s not a good idea to do this often, wait for your physiotherapist to OK you walking. But let me tell you, it just feels so good being able to do this without a boot. I have not walked without a boot for almost 3 full months! Did I mention it just felt so good? 🙂 In fact, not only walking. Just being able to stand up (doing it gently and slowly of course) also feels great. My body has not been in this position without support for some time. Even kneeling down on the bed or couch has so much therapeutic effect for the mind and the soul. It’s something my body has not done in a long time and simple movements can be euphoric!
Risk of Re-Rupture – Slow Down!
The surgeon’s notes cautioned that after week 8, there is a dangerous possibility of a re-rupture. I have been aware of this warning since the beginning but being in Week 10 now, I clearly know why. As I mentioned, the confidence in my recovery is high and I can see improvements every week. Over the last few days, I began to walk a little faster. What I am forgetting is that I am still wearing the boot so I have been kicking into things and even had a small misstep while walking up the stairs. The biggest scare was when I was getting dressed, I leaned too far forward and felt some tingling / ripping on the inside part of my ankle. No pain, just tearing like little strands being pulled apart. For those going through recovery past Week 8, be extra careful and slow down!
Week 10 was also the week I did a consult with two physiotherapy clinics. Thank you to all my friends and colleagues for reaching out with recommendations of good physiotherapists. It just happens that none were close to home. Normally for better health care, I would travel a little further but in this case, I just cannot burden my wife anymore than I already have. Since the rupture is in my right foot, I need her to drive me to all appointments; in fact, I need her to drive me everywhere! So after some research, I chose 2 physiotherapist that were closer to home and tried both out.
From the clinic visits, I learned that the reason why I cannot flex my injured calf was because those muscles were not used much and I now have to re-teach the body to fire those muscle fibres again. Of course, I was given exercises to do at home before my next session.
Since my injury, I have been rather concerned that I have not not been able to pull my foot up at the ankle joint (dorsi flexion). Not being sure how much force I should exert, I dare only try until my foot begins to twitch (see the above video; it’s a before and after physiotherapy comparison). After my physio sessions, I learned that without weight bearing, I can actually try and stretch muscles and pull my foot up way further. Measurements indicate that my injured right ankle is about 15 degrees short from what my left ankle can pull for dorsi flexion (toes up) and about 10 degrees short for plantar flexion (toes down). This is very good news.
Physiotherapy sessions were about 1 hour each and I learned things from both therapists. In addition to ankle movement assessment and learned exercises, I underwent physical massage of the tendon and calf muscles, electrical stimulation and active exercise of the calf, ultrasound of the Achilles tendon area and electrical stimulation with heat treatment around the Achilles tendon. After these, I can feel my ankle loosening up significantly. If measurements were taken right after the ultrasound and physical massage session, numbers from my injured ankle would be much closer to my uninjured counterpart.
Rehab Brings Confidence
After a few days from my physiotherapy sessions, I have a much better understanding of the rehab recovery process. I am more determined than ever to heal my injury and get back out on the basketball court. Not just the basketball court, but I am so looking forward to just being active again; going for family bike rides, walks and be able to run again! I really need to run again! There is only 1 more wedge (3rd piece) to be removed from my boot and I can start to wean it off. I look forward to the day where I won’t need to wear the boot around the house and can just do day-to-day things (like getting a glass of water, walking around the house, taking a shower, going to the washroom) without any hinderance.
Week 10 Summary
Week 10 recovery has been the best week yet. After knowing what I am allowed to do for exercises, my mind as well as my body is once again on the right track to recovery.
One other thing that I have discovered is that being able to communicate with other patients undergoing recovery for the same injury was quite helpful. I have communicated with a handful of people from all over the world and like myself, most are happy to share and chat. Almost every single person has mentioned that being able to share and discuss issues with others going through the same injury was inspirational and rejuvenating. Thanks for all Instagram and Twitter connections for your ears.
Here I am doing some vacuuming, with the emphasis on “some” as it’s not easy to walk with this boot and do any house chores. Just glad I can start to do some things around the house again!