Under normal circumstances, the Achilles tendon functions to allow your calf muscles to stabilize your foot, raise your heel and provide propulsion when walking. Without it, everyday tasks such as walking and climbing stairs are made impossible. The repair is performed with specialized sutures and, when rehabilitated appropriately, should allow you to return to a normal level of function.
Phase one - The first phase of your recovery will be focused on managing your swelling and pain and allowing the specialized sutures and repair to heal and strengthen. You will be provided with elbow crutches and asked to take no significant weight through your operated leg for 4-6 weeks after your operation. Gentle ankle range of motion exercises may be encouraged from week two to prevent excessive ankle joint stiffness developing.
Phase two - Under normal circumstances, your active recovery will commence 4-6 weeks after surgery. You will be asked to wear a walking boot with a heel lift. Over several weeks, your surgeon will reduce the amount of heel lift available in the walking boot to gradually impart a stretch on the repairing Achilles tendon. Your physiotherapist will guide you to appropriately increase the amount of weight you take on your operated leg over this period. They will also guide you through some exercises involving resistance/loading exercises for your calf muscles and Achilles tendon to promote accelerated healing of the tendon repair and prevent excessive post-operative muscle wasting.
Phase three - The third phase of your recovery will begin approximately three months post-operatively when under normal circumstances you will be asked to commence walking without the boot and heel raises. Your physiotherapist will prescribe you some appropriate, weight-bearing strengthening exercises which specifically target the calf muscles known as heel raises. As calf muscle strength and flexibility improve, your physiotherapist will advise you to gradually increase the weight you perform these exercises with. Once the strength of your operated leg is equal to your non-operated leg, activity or sports specific rehabilitation exercises can be commenced. This may include progressing to sprinting, jumping and rotational movements depending on the sport desired.
The AlterG anti-gravity treadmill, Hydro Physio aquatic treadmill, sports exercise equipment such as the Concept2 rowing machine plus our Return to Sport Assessment Service may benefit rehabilitation following Achilles Tendon Repair