Member Case Study: Torn Achilles Post Surgery

author : AMSSM
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Member Question from adlee1070

"I'm 35 weeks post-surgery recovering from a torn achilles. I've seen posts on chronic achilles pain, but nothing on recovery from surgery.  My problem is determining how much discomfort is normal during workouts.  I find it hard to even put this into words, as I struggle with deciding if I am going too hard, too fast, or if I just need to hike up my skirt and push through it. 

I've gotten some advice from a couple people that say to go slow.  I've been through rehab, but my calf is only at about 80% strength.  I understand that it has to hurt somewhat if I want to get stronger, but I don't know the difference between the good pain and the bad."

Answer from Karrn Bales, DO, CAQSM
Member AMSSM

As a sports medicine physician, veteran triathlete, and someone who also needed surgical repair for a ruptured Achilles tendon, I can completely relate to you.  It is tough coming back from such a serious injury!  I understand how you are itching to get back to your pre-injury level of fitness.  The most important thing for you to remember at this point is LESS IS MORE.  The best gauge for you right now is to use pain as your guide.  Unless you are under the direct supervision of your doctor or physical therapist, never try to push through post-surgical pain.  It’s great to get out there and do what you can comfortably, but if you feel even a twinge of pain, you need to back off or stop.  The beauty of the sport of triathlon is you don’t have to become a couch potato after a tough injury.  Consider this the perfect opportunity to focus on your swim and bike training.  

One of my joys in treating triathletes is that I don’t have to push them to get moving.  On the flip side, I often have to reel them in so they don’t overdo it.  Be patient, and go with your gut instinct.  There is no skirt to hike up after surgery.  Don’t let ego interfere with allowing your body to heal.  If it feels good, go with it.  If it hurts, stop.   Plan on a full year before you feel back to the level you were at prior to your injury.   You will eventually get your full strength back, but don’t be alarmed if your affected leg is always smaller.  I ruptured my Achilles tendon 18 years ago, and if I really scrutinize my legs, I can still see a size difference.  However, it is pain free with no limitation, whether it’s competing in an Ironman, mountain climbing, or playing racquetball.   Best of luck in your full recovery!

Karrn Bales, DO, CAQSM
San Antonio, TX

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date: February 22, 2010

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AMSSM

The American Medical Society for Sports Medicine (AMSSM) was formed in 1991 to fill a void that has existed in sports medicine from its earliest beginnings. The founders most recognized and expert sports medicine specialists realized that while there are several physician organizations which support sports medicine, there has not been a forum specific for primary care non-surgical sports medicine physicians.

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avatarAMSSM

The American Medical Society for Sports Medicine (AMSSM) was formed in 1991 to fill a void that has existed in sports medicine from its earliest beginnings. The founders most recognized and expert sports medicine specialists realized that while there are several physician organizations which support sports medicine, there has not been a forum specific for primary care non-surgical sports medicine physicians.

FIND A SPORTS MEDICINE DOCTOR

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