Achilles rupture recovery update: Final post-surgery appointment (4 months)

This is likely to be my last Achilles tendon injury update for a while (knock on wood).

On the 5th, I had my final post-surgery appointment. My surgeon gave me a clean bill of health, telling me, “At this point, you are much more likely to tear your healthy Achilles tendon than to injure your surgically repaired one.” That’s good…though something about the way he put it didn’t sound as reassuring as I would have liked.

In physical therapy, we measured my ankle flexibility, and my injured ankle is nearly as good as my healthy one.

If you recall from my previous post, my healthy ankle was measured at 5 degrees of dorsiflexion (ability to point my toes up) and 40 degrees of plantarflexion (ability to point my toes down), while my repaired ankle was measured at 0 degrees of dorsiflexion and 20 degrees of plantarflexion.

It sounds even worse when you realize that the average healthy person can manage 10-20 degrees of dorsiflexion, and 60 degrees of plantarflexion!

Well, after another few weeks of physical therapy exercises, my healthy ankle is up to 10 degrees of dorsiflexion, and 55 degrees of plantarflexion, while my repaired ankle is at 10 and 53 degrees. That’s a pretty massive improvement, and it leaves my repaired ankle as significantly more flexible than my “healthy” ankle used to be!

But my recovery isn’t yet complete; my physical therapist noted that I was still limping, and that I still lack the calf strength to do a one-legged calf raise on my repaired leg.

Fortunately, she was able to identify the source of my limp–I wasn’t locking my right knee when I walked. It turns out that in a normal stride, you lock your knee and push off with your calf; during my recovery, I was “cheating” and reducing the demands on my repaired leg by keeping my knee bent. I’ve been locking my knees for the past few days and doing more calf raises, and while I’m still not normal, I’m continuing to improve. I’m even able to walk at a close-to-normal pace (about 2.5 mph, versus the painfully slow 1 mph I had been limited to).

From here, I still have months of physical therapy to go–once I can prove that I’ve eliminated my limp and strengthened my calf, I will have to relearn how to run and jump as well, since it turns out I’ve been doing it wrong my whole life! I’ll post updates as I manage to hit those milestones as well.

For anyone who has had the patience to read through my many updates, many thanks for your consideration and support. It’s meant a lot as I’ve struggled to get my life back to normal. And I hope that my detailed account might help others who run into the same issues.

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