I ruptured my achilles tendon (the strongest tendon in your body, measuring 6 inches and connecting your heel to your calf muscle) in 2013 while playing indoor badminton after a long break from my favorite sport. Here is the MRI that shows my achilles tendon rupture. Upon the actual injury, little did I realize the lengthy recovery that I was about to embark upon. One consequence of being forced to keep your right leg in a cast and away from the ground or accelerator is that you get to spend a lot of time on the computer. Hence the realization of this hopefully useful website.
What Causes an Achilles Tendon Rupture?
A number of factors increase your likelihood of rupturing your achilles tendon:
- Age. A majority of these injuries occur in 30-50 year old weekend warriors who forget that their bodies are now into middle age.
- Pushing off forcefully with a foot.
- Suddenly changing direction at full speed, usually during while playing a high intensity sport.
- Injury via a fall, stumble or other unfortunate event.
There are some precautions that you can take in order to reduce your chances of getting an achilles tendon injury.
An achilles tendon rupture is generally far more problematic than most other limb injuries due to the delicate nature of tendon and collagen regeneration, re-rupture risks, a lengthy recovery process and very limited blood flow in the lower leg area. My achilles rupture was the first truly serious injury of my life, and it was quite an initial shock for me to read about the lengthy amount of time during which I would be in a cast followed by special knee length boot followed by several months of physiotherapy and rehab. It was also very confusing for me to decide between:
- Having an achilles tendon surgery to repair the rupture.
- Or treating the injured tendon with no surgery.,
I had very little time to reach a decision since it already took me 8 days after injury to see a doctor.
During the one night I had to do my research before notifying my doctor of my decision, I found a very useful site (achillesblog.com) with hundreds of blogs and comments on there. However, my research led me to an unwelcome discovery — the dreaded “re-rupture.”
As far as I could tell, there is no site on the web that has any kind of forum dedicated to achilles tendon ruptures and, especially, re-ruptures. Because re-ruptures are fairly common, people can opt for various combinations/iterations of surgery or no surgery during each round of rehabilitation after a rupture and re-rupture(s). I have created forums on this site to reflect that, making it easier for other analytical people such as myself to research what others before them have gone through when following each type of surgery and non-surgery combination protocol in case of re-ruptures.
Non-Surgical versus Surgical Treatment of Achilles Tendon Ruptures
I am especially curious about the non-surgical conservative approach to treatment, which I ended up choosing. Non-surgical treatment has become much more common in recent years, but the debate on surgery versus no surgery rages on. Even when it comes to the non-surgical approach, there is significant debate about the best approach when following this conservative treatment option (lengthy immobilization versus rapid/early mobilization; many weeks in a cast followed by boot, versus some weeks in a cast followed by boot, versus immediate boot and no cast at all (!) per some modern protocols; duration of partial versus full weight bearing periods; impact of size of fully ruptured gap on choice of treatment; and much more). Make sure to read this chronoogical list of studies in support of non-surgical treatment of achilles tendon ruptures.
Opposing Thoughts about Treatment Method
In the US, surgery is still by far the most popular choice, although the non-surgical approach is becoming more popular due to a number of favorable recent studies. In the UK, it seems like the non-surgical approach is more popular (although I wonder how much that is impacted by the public NHS incurs fewer costs with that), and it would be nice to get exact statistics. From what I have gathered, in other places with state provided health care (such as Canada and Scandinavia), the non-surgical approach is also far more popular than in the US. According to some anecdotes I have read on the internet, in New Zealand surgery is not even offered initially for achilles tendon ruptures anymore!
Among professional athletes, surgery is almost always the preferred choice of treatment, although I have read of the New Zealand All Blacks rugby team and some Canadian professional athletes choosing the conservative no surgery option. Since Denmark has produced so many world class badminton players, I am especially curious if any of them have ever gone the non-surgical route and come back to play professionally. It seems like all of the athletes who tear their achilles tendon in the US opt for surgery. Even in Europe, it seems like most of the famous football (soccer) players who rupture their achilles tendon opt for surgery.
Achilles Tendon Rupture Forums
In the forums, I will try to post links to any blogs I find that include at least one non-surgical treatment attempt. It is very easy to find surgical repair blogs and articles so I will not focus too much on finding those. One obvious way is to just google names of athletes who have had achilles tendon ruptures, since they almost always go for surgery. Literally thousands of examples out there. Since I had my injury, I set a google alert for “achilles tendon”. Almost every single day, my daily alert has names of at least two athletes who just ruptured their achilles tendon and were going to have surgery.
Please note that the information and opinions on this site and forum should not be used in place of a physician, physiotherapist, radiologist, surgeon or other medical professional’s recommendations. The owner of this website and almost all the participants on the forums are not medical professionals nor approved experts in achilles related problems. It is imperative for you to to follow your doctor’s advice and only use this site as an informational source that you can show your doctor if you feel the need.