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Ruptured Achilles Rapid to Ski

post #1 of 47
Thread Starter 
I am in process of recovery from 9/14/05 complete rupture of achilles,thanks to a "ressurection" of my basketball career (lasting 5 minutes - Note: 1-1 from field before injury). Surgery was in Colorado Springs 9/20/05 by Dr. O'brien I have had amazing success recovering so far but there is more to the story. If you are out there and have had or are having a similar experience I need to hear from you. Even if you're a doctor!
I've kept detailed info on all the various events related to the injury and recovery but I also need more info to continue on,
My email is scott@legalcollections.com
post #2 of 47
My left achilles ruptured the weekend after Thanksgiving in 1995 during my third day of skiing for the season. The reattachment surgery was a week later. I was in casts and braces for the next six months and PT for four months after that. Mine was a total rupture too. Maybe it's because I was 56, but there's no way those tissues would have been ready to support an activitiy like skiing in less than a year. It took several years for my left ankle to match the flexibility of my right. And I still routinely experience a bit of discomfort in the left.

Whatever you do, be sure you begin stretching your achilles tissues routinely. I spend 15 minutes every morning standing on a 30-degree ramp after I've warmed the tendons and calves up with some toe rises. A 20-second lean against a wall, which I see folks doing before starting some activity, just doesn't cut it for tendons as heavy as the achilles. This would be a good suggestion for anyone, especially if you have experienced sore achilles tendons after skiing.

If your surgeon is saying you can ski this winter after a repair performed a month ago, he must have some miracle treatment procedure.
post #3 of 47
I remember you mentioning that ramp thing vs the wall thing.
My achilles both hate themselves and me, but if it takes a year to recover from an op, I will leave it a few more years before having them fixed.
post #4 of 47
I had a 100% shredded achilles in ~early October about 7 years ago (43 yrs. old).
I blew it up playing football. I thought I got hit by a bus. Had surgery by one of the top orthopeodic guys in the area a week later.

It hurt like hell right after the surgery. I was in a half cast for a few weeks, then moved into a walking boot with a gradually adjustable foot angle. Started Physical therapy 3X a week soon after getting into the boot. Worked very hard at PT for several months - my therapist used to get mad at me because I'd really overdo it.

It really sucked. My calf was emaciated, but I was totally committed to giving it 110% at PT. I thought they were treating a little too much like a non-athlete old man, and felt my achilles could take more than the recommended dose of rehab.

4 months after rupturing it, I was skiing moguls at Mt. Tremblant for a week. My doctor didn't really like the idea of me skiing too much, but thought I was just about ready. He said to take it easy and stay out of the bumps. I didn't listen too well, but I survived the week fine. The achilles was still a bit swolen though, and hurt like hell from the pressure of the boot, but the strength seemed to be there, and of course the boot helped keep the range of motion in a range I was ready for.

I continued with PT, and it took several more months before I felt like it was close to 100%. But within the year it was very strong and today I don't even think about it unless somebody asks me. I can sprint full speed on it and am rarely aware that I ever injured it.

Good luck!
post #5 of 47
I had a partial rupture 5-6 years ago. It kept getting worse -- I had booted it, with no improvement -- and ended up with getting it debrided and reattached. It took 12 - 16 months to feel totally normal. It was fine for years, but I re-started PT after last winter, 'cuz it started to bother me again.

Couple of critical things:
  • Absolutely stay away from the antibiotic Cipro (and the entire family of flouroquinolone antibiotics) -- they are heavily associated with tendon degradation and rupture (particularly the achilles).
  • get a good massage therapist to work that leg. The PT is probably doing cross-frictional massage -- very important to keeping scar tissue down. whether PT or MT, the massage is important to keep everything stretched.
  • stretch, and stretch, and stretch more - the medial and distal muscles in your calf. Do this, a bit at a time, and keep doing it over and over.
  • ask the PT to check your range of motion in your ankle. In fact make sure your flexibility is where it should be... if not it could impact your achilles.
  • Do not blow it by over stressing the thing too early. There is not a lot of blood flowing through that area, and healing will take a long time.
  • If you smoke, stop. the reduced O2 will slow down the healing process.
Good luck. It's one of the most painful deals out there... but if you're focused on healing, you should have it back.

post #6 of 47
Achilles tendon ruptures don't just happen. They happen because the tendon is too stiff and tight.

Extended gentle stretching makes the tendons more pliable and flexible.
post #7 of 47
Thread Starter 


Thanks all for your info. I should have mentioned I got the PT folks to give me and electrical stim machine. These things are awesome for increasing circulation and reducing swelling in the area by electrically stimulating contractions of the muscles. Will add more as my recovery hopefully continues. Bought my ski pass yesterday. i four-pack each at Keystone and Breck.
post #8 of 47
Originally Posted by Kneale Brownson
Achilles tendon ruptures don't just happen. They happen because the tendon is too stiff and tight.

Extended gentle stretching makes the tendons more pliable and flexible.
Thats very true. I had warning with mine and was too stupid to listen. Playing football on the day that mine blew up, I felt some strain there. It was a little sore, which was unusual, but I just said "I'll play through it."

I did, and it began feeling better, as if it were just stretching out. The soreness actually went away, and then a half hour later - BAM! Stupid me. I should have stopped and rested it when it was feeling sore. I had ample warning.
post #9 of 47
Thread Starter 
hey brownson-see carvemeister. dont bet against technology and will (power).
post #10 of 47
Oh shit!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I played 5 on 5 last night at my 14 yo son's basketball practice. About 45 minutes into game i made a sudden change in direction, and heard a loud popping noise, and I couldn't walk too well or stand on my toes. My worst fears were realized--ruptured achilles. I will have surgery this week-end. After last year's poor ski season here in the PNW( 25 days skiing vs usual 60 days). I was really looking forward to skiing( Been once already and was going today). Now I wonder if I should call ski area and request refund for my season pass. I want full recovery, and don't know if I'll get a chance to use my pass much in later season.

Totally Bummed
post #11 of 47
Oh man...that sucks. Chin up.
post #12 of 47
I ruptured my achilles (right leg) for Thanksgiving! A little neighborhood football game with the kids turned in pure agony. Surgery on Tuesday gets me started back to recovery, but some of the earlier posts have me bummed. Surgeon mentioned I could possibly get some blue groomers in this year, but after reading some of these posts, maybe he was just being nice. 8-)

Funny what you think about seconds after getting up off of the ground. No skiing!!!
post #13 of 47
Paulie & Lowphat -

now that you're both enduring the wonderful pain, post achilles surgery -- and yep, it hurts more than about anything else I ever had done -- it's important to remember that (a) it'll get better and (b) you need to let the things heal properly and (c) push the PT even though it's mighty uncomfortable at first. Beyond the pain and loss of range of motion, remember you need to work on the fine muscle movement in those ankles. You'll lose lots of that during your down time, so make sure you Ptherapist works on that once you're up and running.

good luck
post #14 of 47
October of 1996,I had a complete rupture my right achilles tendon playing racquetball. Surgery was done and I was in various casts for 10 weeks. After the cast was removed, I was very timid about putting any kind of pressure on the foot for fear of reinjury. Physical therapy was started. I was amazed that the therapist put alot more pressure and stretching on the tendon than I would have ever done. He convinced me that the repair is a lot stronger than I thought. I didn't ask my doctor (I already knew what he would say) but I went skiing with the family 2 weeks later at Mammoth. Ski boots are much like the cast that I wore so I didn't worry about reinjuring the achilles. I did decrease the heel release but had no problems. I'm now 65 and still play racquetball 2-3 times a week against younger players and ski 20 days a year to get my 500,000 ft vertical.

Good luck on your rehab!!
post #15 of 47
This recovery is taking way longer than I thought. I'm like 8 weeks into it and I finally start PT tomorrow. My Dr. doesn't like to send you to PT early because he doesn't want you stretching the incision much. He used to be a team Dr. for the Lakers, Kings, Dodgers, so he's done a bunch of achilles repairs.

I can walk without crutches and a walking boot on my right foot, but it's awkward. And, I'm going to assume after splints, casts and boots, that everyone's sole was as sensitive as heck. Feel like I'm walking on needles when I'm barefoot.

He lied about skiing this year. Actually he just says everyones different...
post #16 of 47

rupture at thanksgiving - spring ski

I had a total rupture of my achilles around thanksgiving 4 years ago (playing basketball - 47 yo at the time). Surgery and casting. On the cast was off I did go to a PT and while I worked diligently and followed the paramaters set by the PT so as not to exceed capabilities. I able to ski in end of March or beginning of April, although I just made it. I could not risk other sports, but the ski boot provided alot of support. Full rehab for other sports took many months after that. I did this under doctors supervision and with approval.

I had older boots at the time and did have a boot fitter bump out the shell as my achilles was still swollen with all of the scar tissue etc and the pressure was painful without doing this. I would hate to do this with a new pair but it worked well.

I echo other comments I have read on yoga becoming a standard part of your workout routine.

post #17 of 47

What did you guys do wrong?

Just recently I started a thread on the Archille's heel on a forum that features replies by pro windsurfers. I haven't seen much feedback on it. However, reading through your posts, I see that any activity can result in a ruptured tendon. What do you think you did wrong? Were you not conditioned? Did you fail to stretch before your activity?
post #18 of 47
Stretch and be in good shape! Ten years ago, at age 37 on President's Day weekend I ruptured my tendon while dancing at Whiskey Jacques in SV (moral: don't drink and dance, especially with ex's!). I had skied approx 20 days already that year and was an avid cyclist. With my "friends" (and I use the word lightly!) egging me the next morning ski day I skied on it, admittedly in great pain but my boot gave me a fair amount of support. The following next morning (after the evenings cocktail of vicodin and Caymus Cab) my foot was black, I flew home and went immediately to ER....within 12 hours I had surgery. By early May after aggressive PT I was skiing (poorly I might add, and against my Doc's wishes) and with great pain, but I was skiiing.
post #19 of 47

Post from a Windsurfer

As someone with a bit of knowledge about this (ruptured my own & studied the theory behind ruptures a bit) I'd say that windsurfers should not worry too much about rupturing the achilles.

Put very short, it is extremely difficult to rupture an achilles by impact alone; alternatively from "outside" pull. Pretty much the only thing that can make it happen is when your muscles in your entire leg puts as much pressure on it as possible; something that pretty much only happens in dynamic sports such as basketball (what I did to mine), ultimate, badminton etc., where quick and aggressive changes of direction happen. At very few situations (if any) will there be anywhere near such stress on the achilles when windsurfing; generally so much less that even a blow to the tendon itself should not rupture it. Falling with feet in straps would be a lot more dangerous to the rest of the ankle as well as knee ligaments than the achilles.

Btw. conservative treatment (i.e. no surgery, regrowin while in cast) seems to show good results while avoiding the dangers of surgery (very little blood circulation in the schilles = very high/bad effects of a potential infection after surgery).

I personally am not doing any real dynamic sports yet and probably wont for another year (to avoid rerupture) but I have been windsurfing (carefully) since little more than two and a half month afte the rupture and full on four months after; and have not felt that I was vulnerable when windsurfing; just slower/less precise on one tack due to less strength/coordination (getting there now).

I worry about pretty much anything else (bone breaks, ancle and knee ligaments, head-to-board/rig etc.) before worrying about my achilles when windsurfing. And yeah, the injury stinks but with enough determination most people wil be back faster than from a lot of other injuries sustainable while suring (like ACL rupture or bad ancle breaks). Hope this helps?
fromBjarke ()
post #20 of 47
My achilles ruptured while playing racquetball. I had been playing about an hour and was warmed up. I was awaiting the serve when the achilles blew. I wasn't moving and didn't have any pain but I knew what it was when I felt the gap in the tendon. I opted for the surgery because the healing time would be faster. I get occasional tendinitis on the opposite side but I not going to worry about injuring it. If it goes it goes.
post #21 of 47
I am a windsurfer and have had major trouble with my achilles tendons for about 7 years, but only until I start my skiing season. Some times I can't walk at all, especially after a 30 minute drive. Today is day 90 of skiing and without pain for me. Should I wear my ski boots in off season?
Or is there any other solution?
post #22 of 47

You won't like this.

Give skiing DH up. Try X-C. Perhaps, it is your boot's fit, but why take the chance?
post #23 of 47
Originally Posted by ATskier
Just recently I started a thread on the Archille's heel on a forum that features replies by pro windsurfers. I haven't seen much feedback on it. However, reading through your posts, I see that any activity can result in a ruptured tendon. What do you think you did wrong? Were you not conditioned? Did you fail to stretch before your activity?
I think the main reason Achilles tendons rupture is that they are not stretched properly. Mine ruptured after I had spent a couple years using a Nordic Track fairly routinely. I think the quick stop at the end of the stride on a Nordic Track makes the tendon tight and hard. My Achilles were beginning to ache occasionally after Nordic Tracking and were somewhat sore when the ski season started for me. Three days later, one ruptured in a fall.

During PT, I was told the Achilles gets tough in folks who play sports like basketball and use the calf muscles a lot. Folks who practice these activities should be stretching the Achilles tendons routinely. The PT guy who was helping me said the 20-30-second stretch most athletes give the Achilles is just tightening the tendons. He said five minutes of steady stretch is the minimum that should be done. I stand every day on a 30-degree ramp for a minimum of 10 minutes.
post #24 of 47
Ruptured my achilles on outer limits approx 6 or so years ago.
Skiing aggressively and over confident, went falling, and somewhere along the way my left ski got stuck in the snow with my boot locked in, while I kept moving forward. (First real ski injury after >25 years skiing, and I fall alot.) Killington was well equipped; they had orthos on hand.

My brother is an ortho, so I knew (in my case) that I needed surgery sooner than later. Radiologist couldn’t figure out what activity could cause it; the achilles ruptured up towards the lower calf. Had surgery within a week or so of rupture. They braided it back together in a nice tight braid (ortho took great before, during, and after photos).

Was on crutches, and then wore the boot for a while. The atrophy was surprising; my calf completely deflated.
Physical therapy was frustrating; was difficult to push the Nordic track, stand on tip-toes, or press weight with my calf by extending my foot.
The hardest part was getting my gait back; had a serious limp for a long time. It was almost comical when I would try to run.
Was the most inactive time of my life; just focused on work and on physical therapy. Although my mom got me interested in golfing while in my boot, of which I am greatly appreciative.

My sister ruptured her achilles a year or so after I did. She had electric stim and dedicated 4 to 5 hours per day to physical therapy, including cardio and working out the rest of her body. She had a quicker recovery, and experienced less atrophy.

Was up and skiing the next season; never missed a season, and skiing the same as before. My sister was also up and skiing the following season, and doing triathlons as she did before. I still feel the difference; my right leg is the stronger side, and can’t spring off the balls of my feet in the same way as before. But when you’re not able to do the simplest things for a while, you want to go go go do everything when you are finally able. Before surgery, I ran only one marathon; and, since surgery, I’ve done an additional nine marathons (six in 2005, slower pace).

Someone asked about windsurfing -- I windsurf, but I am far from an advanced rider, and haven't for a few years and don't know about current boards. I can see possible tendonitis occurring in the back leg, but don't know how a rupture could occur unless you're doing serious aerials or waves. But. as I said, I am not an advanced rider and haven't kept up with it recently; you'll probably be able to get better input from windsurfing forums (iwindsurf.com? -- good for wind reports, but don't know about their forum).
post #25 of 47
I've ruptured BOTH of my achillies' and had them both surgically repaired.
They didn't happen at the same time. They happened 18 months apart.
Anyway, I'm recovered and I can DH ski black diamonds at Mammoth and surf everyday at Topanga.
If I can do it so can you.
post #26 of 47
I just ruptured by achilles on 3/21...a few days before I was supposed to take a brand new set of tele skis out...arg! Anyone have experience going back to tele (backcountry or resort) after this injury? All the other posts are motivating. Sounds like I just need to pretend I'm on a long uphill slog looking for turns off the top...
post #27 of 47
I'm re-reading this thread with great interest. Something bad has happened to my left achilles and I'm on crutches. GP said she thought it was a partial rupture, and I'm off to see my usual sports doctor on monday.

It wasn't so bad at the time, but that night I was sleeping and the pain woke me up. bloody hell it hurt, front and back. Did all the right things too, RICE and a big dose of naprosyn, and next day strapped it up but I could not walk. Just an embarassign shuffle and stabs of mind-blowing pain. Naturally, the place I work in is humungous and the walk from the carpark to my bit is taking 15 minutes.
Even sitting in my work chair hurt horribly, it was awful. Had to guzzle paracetamol, as the dose of naprosyn precluded any further aspirin or nsaid style painkillers.

However, after getting the crutches, things have improved. I can point my toes, apparently that's a good thing. I think the GP's right, I've just ripped a bit. I've gotta start work in early december in ski boots, and from what people have said here, there's no way an Op would fit in with that schedule.
post #28 of 47
What a shame!
But ski boots might even help! They help me!
I have had problems with my both tendons for a number of years. I have never had a doctor look at them. had a dard time walking from my car to the hotel on my to Colorado last season. After 162 days of non-stop skiing, the pain came slowly back in May, but than let up.
Just another case, and good luck! AE
P.S. Are you heading to Park City later?
post #29 of 47

If it is a partial rupture, your doc will probably put you in a walking boot and a sleeping splint. Wear them... it's really the only thing that might help it out. If you are really in pain, you should definitely have it looked at. If you smoke, stop as cigs hamper blood flow a lot and prolong the healing time.

If it's a big bad partial... you'll have to make a call on it. If you get necrotic tissue in there, the achilles is always going to hurt.

Good luck!
post #30 of 47
Saw the sports doctor yesterday (they haev a looooong file on this, from the late 80s). He poked around and it really didn't hurt at all!!!!! Only walking seems to do it, as you go from heel to toe. I'm having an ultrasound scan next week, to see what's happened in there during the past 10 years. It's in both achilles, but the left one has been unhappy after an american dog chewed up my orthotic last season! (fixed that 2 weeks ago, the orthotic, not the dog).

Doctor was muttering that it might be chronic achilles tendonosis, which naturally is very hard to fix. Yes, ski boots are great. After a month or so, my feet feel awesome, I can run for the bus, go for longish walks and even wear high heels. Not now though.

The pain subsided after I got on the crutches - the foot was moving, but with no weight. Amazing the difference. I think there's a whole lot of scar tissue in there from years of damage, and I reckon I must have torn a bit. The ultrasound will reveal all, I think.

This is why I haven't, and probably won't, go for level III. I just can't get off the inside edge and onto the outside edge when skiing on one foot, and you have to do that in the exam. The strength just isn't there. Used to be, before my feet gave up the ghost in late 2002.
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