The Achilles tendon is the fibrous tissue extension of the muscles on the back of your leg. It is the part that attaches the three calf muscles to your heel. While the leg muscles are the most powerful group of muscles in your body, the Achilles tendon is the strongest and thickest tendon. It helps contract the calf muscles and pushes your foot down to enable you to walk, run, jump and stand on your toes. Excessive wear and tear to the Achilles tendon when one is engaged in competitive sports can rupture it. When this happens, you may need surgery to sew back and align the tendon. Recovery from Achilles tendon surgery can take up to 6 months. Read the tips below that will help you recover from Achilles tendon surgery.
- Once you are allowed to go back home after the Achilles tendon surgery, you need to stay off your feet for about ten days. You may be required to wear a Cryo Cuff® which gives the right amount of compression with cold treatment to help reduce swelling, pain and edema after surgery and use crutches to move about for the next two weeks. When you are lying down, you should keep your leg elevated higher than your heart to ensure the proper flow of blood to your leg and help minimize swelling. The sutures may be removed after 10 days. Get as much sleep and rest as you can to help your body recover faster.
- The Cryo Cuff® will be replaced with a Moon Boot after two weeks and you will be required to wear the foot brace or a CAM™ or controlled ankle motion walker for another four weeks. The CAM walker is a removable orthopedic apparatus shaped like a boot with aluminum and foam that can be adjusted with Velcro straps to fit snugly around your leg and foot. The walker will allow you to move more freely with or without the aid of crutches.
- While the wound is healing make sure that it is kept clean and dry. Wrap your foot in plastic when you take a shower to keep it from getting wet. Soaking in a tub is not advisable until the wound has healed. You can take a shower after a day or two following the surgery, under your doctor’s advice. In some cases, the doctor will only allow you to have sponge baths for a few days.
- Eat a balanced diet and take fiber enriched food to reduce the occurrence of constipation that is very common after surgery. Switch to bland foods if your stomach gets upset in the first few days after surgery. Drink plenty of liquids and take your prescribed medicine on time.
- You should start physical therapy six weeks after the Achilles tendon surgery with the help of a physical therapist. You should begin with gentle stretching exercises, and exercises to improve your balance and regain your strength. Agility exercises based on the sport that you are engaged in should also be started at this stage. This should be gradually followed by more explosive exercises until you are fully recovered.
- Take vitamin supplements to encourage faster healing. The vitamins that promote healing of bones and tissues are Vitamins C, A, B complex and K. Eat plenty of fresh fruits, too.
- Wear an air stirrup brace when you have gained mobility on your leg to protect if from any damage. You should continue wearing it during the first year when you go back to your sports activities.
Recovering from an Achilles tendon surgery is a long process and is done in phases. Follow your doctor’s and your physical therapist’s advice on how to keep healthy and flexible following surgery. Do not rush your recovery time as this can lead to complications that will keep you off your sports or your work for a far longer period.