Achilles Tendon Severed At Heel In Accident

11 weeks ago I stepped on a piece of broken glass and it pivoted up and through the back of my heel, completely severing my achilles tendon (and gashing the back of my ankle open to the bone). I had emergency surgery to repair it the following day.

The whole experience is somewhat vague as I went into shock immediately (lost a lot of blood). When it first happened I just felt a quick and painful hit to the back of my heel and then had a deep feeling that something was wrong and that I couldn't walk. I was rushed to the hospital.

Following surgery, my leg was immobilized in a plaster, then fiberglass cast for five weeks. I was then given an aircast and began slowly increasing the weight bearing by 8 weeks.

At 9.5 weeks I gave up with the crutches and am trying to walk again using the aircast. I'm now at 11 weeks post surgery and I cant put any weight on the foot without lots of pain and tightness.

Where I live its started to snow, and I use public transportation, so getting around has become a little difficult. I'm wondering if anyone might have any suggestions as to how long I can anticipate being in an aircast, and for how long the tendon is at a high risk of retearing?

We have long winters.

I appreciate reading all these stories of recovery. Helps to know that others have overcome this too. Also would be grateful for any tips others have learned in helping the healing process along/tricks for getting around on one good leg, etc.

These experiences definitely show us the importance of appreciating good health!


Joshua Answers:

Hi there.

Ouch. :(

So, three months in a cast, keeping the lower leg and ankle structures immobile, causes all your connective tissue to shrinkwrap. So it totally makes sense that you can't walk without feeling a lot of tightness.

I'm curious about the pain though.

If you just had pain and tightness from Achilles Tendonitis, that'd be one thing.

But your situation is entirely different. Well, there's going to be a lot of similarities in the near future, but a sharp blade of glass totally severing your Achilles is a whole different world from normal tendonitis.

You asked how long it was going to take to recover, walk without pain, etc.

There's no easy answer for that.

It depends on where exactly the tendon was severed. It depends on the surgery, how good the surgeon was, how healthy your are/were, how fast you heal, your diet and nutrition intake, how much effective rehab self care you do or don't do, etc.

And Achilles tendon's hold SO much load and tension. A LOT. If you sever a wrist tendon and get it repaired, that's less of a big deal.

But your Achilles, carrying your entire weight with each step, etc.

I don't have an answer for you as to how much re-tear danger you're in just from walking around.

Probably you're fine.

But. All the muscles of your lower leg are TOO TIGHT. All the connective tissue in your lower leg are TOO TIGHT. This puts LOTS more constant load on your Achilles, and increased load when you walk etc.

In my view, you MUST work on your lower leg to open it up and have it work better. This not only removes load from your Achilles, but helps your entire foot structure work better.

Less tightness, less load, less pain, less danger.

My #1 free tip for you right now is to learn How To Reduce Inflammation.

You've got a huge amount of pain enhancing chemical floating around in all the half squeezed sponge of your tissue.

And if you don't know how the Pain Causing Dynamic works, you really should.

How to open up the tissue of the lower leg? How to help the tendon heal as optimally as possible?

In short, self massage, and lots of it.

For more details and guidance, you may want to get my Reversing Achilles Tendonitis program. It contains everything you need to know to avoid getting achilles Tendonitis, make it go away, and recover optimally from Achilles Tendonitis surgery.

Please reply using the comment link below. Do not submit a new submission to answer/reply, it's too hard for me to find where it's supposed to go.

And, comments have a 3,000 character limit so you may have to comment twice.

Joshua Tucker, B.A., C.M.T.
The Tendonitis Expert

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Comments for Achilles Tendon Severed At Heel In Accident

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Aug 02, 2016
Severed achilles
by: Anonymous

My Achilles was severed when I put my foot through a glass door. They did surgery and reattached everything. I was lucky and had an incredible surgeon. It took years for me to not be in pain at the end of the day taking weight off of it.

I have quite a bit of scar tissue build up. But I do roofing and it does affect me standing on a steep pitch roof all day, I just suck it up and keep going. I found that yoga was a huge help in the process of having a full range of motion and the swelling.

Jul 22, 2016
41 years since severed Achilles
by: Anonymousdebr

I severed my Achilles heel in a work accident when I was 19. After a few months in a cast, it was months of dragging my leg until I took a waitress job. It was painful that whole year but I kept at it until I was able to walk normal.

Still, I have problems with shoes on the scar tissue. I wore clogs for many years. Now I have swelling in the summer months but no pain now for years, just an ugly heel from the nasty scar. Just keep at whatever works.

It's been 41 years now since it happened.


Joshua Comments:

Hi Anonymousdebr.'re 60 now, and the achilles tendon was severed (at the heel bone?) 41 years ago.

Did they stitch the tendon back together or just put you in a cast with your achilles in a shortened position?

Swelling where? How much?

Say more about the scar tissue. Lots of scar build up? A little but still sensitive?

May 14, 2016
Lacerated Achilles Tendon 7 weeks on...
by: Jill

8 weeks on from lacerating my Achilles Tendon but only 7 weeks from surgery, I am experiencing more pain now than the day they sliced it.

It all started when I was crouched down with brush and shovel sweeping up dust and leaves. I lost my balance, stepped backwards into a piece of steel. I was wearing an ankle bracelet which also worked like a chainsaw as it had gone right inside the wound severely severing my achilles 29mm in depth. I went to the Accident & Emergency Dept, for them to say no tendon damage and stiched me up and sent me on my way.

Day 2: the wound became infected so started a course of antibiotics.

Day 3: my foot looked like a rubber glove which had been blown up so ended up going back to A&E and referred for an ultrasound.

Day 4: Had ultrasound.

Day 5: results were sent to A&E and advised I had 2 lacerations to my Achilles Tendon and sent on my way to hospital and advised I will be having surgery.

Day 8: Finally had surgery where the wound was reopened, tendon had started to curl up and die so was cleaned up and cut shorter to try to liven up the edges so they could fuse together with a suture, flushed out and stitched up again. Felt great and everything went well. Was given a knee scooter to get around. Had a couple of near falls where I had placed my casted foot on the ground to stop my fall.

Week 5 I returned to work on reduced hours and last week was back to 8hrs a day. I also came out of my cast last week and put into a moon boot and now using crutches as support.

However the past few days my foot and ankle has looked like it was badly bruised.... it was dark purple and very swollen. It has become so sensitive as if I have a hot steel bar inside my boot that is constantly pressed up against my achilles. It is throbbing. Even codeine hasn't helped.

Today I went to doctors and he advised I may be experiencing a post-surgical complication known as Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS). This has something to do with nerves.

This pain has been the worst I have experienced since my injury, my foot looks more swollen and more bruised now than how it was 4 weeks ago.

Has anyone else out there experienced CRPS after having Achilles Tendon re-attachment? What have u done to help with pain? what can I do to help get back to normal as fast as possible? (I'm still only allowed to partially weight bear now). I would like to know others stories and advice with this.


Joshua Comments:

Hi Jill.

I'd like to know more of others' stories too.

How are you feeling now, its been a while since you posted this.

1. Say more about the symptoms you think might be CRPS. To me, what you described sounds more like the very possible side effects of a shortened tendon that then drastically throws the foot etc out of whack, and puts constant tension on various structures, possibly a lot of tension....and then when you go walking around there's LOTS of tension going in directions the body isn't designed to handle.

So aside from the pain causing dynamic being active and progressive, basically the structures of your lower leg have been rearranged and the body doesn't particularly like that.

2. Did they give you any fluoroquinolone antibiotic like Cipro, Ciprofloxacin, Levaquin, Levofloxacin, etc?

3. How are you feeling now, its been a while since you posted this.

May 01, 2016
Achilles severed as kid
by: Ant

I severed my right leg tendon in 1972, when I was 9 or ten. Much the same way, broken bottle cut it off neat as you would with a scalpel. I managed to run home about a mile! Amazing what adrenaline can do.

Was hard to get back on my feet as those were the days before physio and we were poor.

Anyway, played football in later years, only problem I have ever had is a lump of scar tissue which causes a problem with some shoes/boots.


Joshua Comments:

Hi Ant.

Amazing indeed.

You ran a mile home with a completely severed achilles??

Aug 30, 2015
Same comment as above
by: Lora Huskins-Winters

Back in summer of 1964, I was 4 1/2 yrs. old.I was at my relatives cabin on the lake.They were in the process of cleaning a swmming area in front of their camp.

So while they were picking up garbage, rocks, pieces of wood, and a bit of broken glass......their kids and I went wading out to a rock that was quite large and stood above the water.

On our way back to the shore my left foot slipped down between two pieces of slippery slimey wood.

I remember my foot going completely numb and perhaps my leg as well a bit.....

I knew something was wrong....couldn't walk. The adults came quickly, picked me
up, had to hold my foot together to my leg.

Was cut quite deep towards my ankle bone. My achilles tendon was cut apart. Rushed to the hospital for emergency surgery.

Had to be pulled together and rejoined. Not allowed to walk. When stitches were removed, one stitch would not come out and was infected.

Had to have surgery again to remove the stitch in the infected area. Had also been subscribed penicillin after the first surgery.....after the second surgery.....they increased the amount to be taken to try and avoid any more infection issues.

I ended up about 3-4 days after coming home from second surgery, waking up in the a.m. pretty much paralyzed.....could not move my joints or stand up......too much pain. Dr. checked me out and said I was over-dosed with the prescription of peniscillian.

Was kept in hospital for a couple days......then back home.

Don't really know if there was physical therapy available for people back in the early 60's or not.......I did not get any what so ever.

It was up to me to get myself up and walking again. Like I said I was only 4 1/2 yrs old........but I DID IT!!

Didn't take along time to get walking..........alot longer to get my leg back into shape and heal the two surgeries.........but down the road that also took place as well!

So now 50 yrs. later........have had two minor injuries around my through fine. would take too long to explain them.

Life was great for my "achilles tendon"!!!

Right now the only thing I am noticing now is it feels like (don't really know if it's my achilles tendon pulling tight??) something up the back of my leg has spells of tightening, mainly from the knee up to the top of my leg.

Feels like it could turn into a "Charlie horse"........but it doesn't.....never.

So that's my update on my achilles tendon.......all worked out great!!

But I am curious to know if my minor issue would be happening due to the "achilles tendon"????


Joshua Comments:

Hi Lora.

It wouldn't be due to the tendon so much as the muscle(s) attached to the tendon.

They're too tight, and stuck too tight. If you worked them and softened things up (might take a while), chances are very high that things would work better and feel better.

Dec 13, 2014
my severe tendon injury
by: Iman

I decided to share my story after reading few stories that encouraged and gave me confident.

Before I start I would like to let you know that my English is very bad but that didn't stop me sharing my story with you. so here is how it happened....

About 15 years ago when I was 9 year old I severely injured my tendons.

One morning my older brother asked me to bring him chilli source as he was having his breakfast. I was playing with my freind and said no... He locked around sow a knife and throws at me. I tried to run away but the knife suddenly entered my tendon and cut it 90%. at that time I lived in small village and there was only one doctor who is not specialize these types of injures. my mom took me there, he said he can't do anything with it apart from rubbing plaster around it.we didn't have any other options so we had to agreed.

Anyway it took me around a year to use my leg again. NoW the leg is strong as the other one. However once I exercise I feel weakness in that leg. I don't know if this is related to the previous injury.

hope some has and answer to this. Thanks


Joshua Comments:

It's very likely that the previous injury is playing a role. But really, it's more the side effects of the injury, though it depends on how the tendon healed.

Muscles got tight, things had to adapt to continue to function.

What kind of exercise are you doing, and how much of it, that you start to experience weakness?

See Related: Accident Cut My Achilles Tendon Multiple Surgeries And Infection

May 24, 2014
Over 20 years ago accident cut into my achilles tendon
by: Patricia O

I am 44 and when I was 12 I was riding a 10 speed bike holding a bike lock. When the bike lock fell into front break it caused the bike to stop instantly. The pedal cut across my Achilles tendon.

I was military so we went to base and the stitched it up without X-rays. After it heals I was running and it snapped. I had surgery to repair and have never had any issues till about 2 months ago. My leg always feels tight which is causing me to limp when I walk. N

Not sure why this is happening or if it will continue. It seems to hurt for a couple of weeks then is fine and then starts again. Does anyone have any suggestion on what I should do before I head to see a doctor?


Joshua Comment:

Hi Patricia.

Read this thread for overall answers to 'what should I do'.

1. It sounds like the original cut was too much of the achilles tendon, and stitching didn't do a good enough job, so later when you were running the rest of it gave way.

2. You had surgery, now a long time later you're getting pain.


Because of the Pain Causing Dynamic, for one.

Because your entire structure was shortened from the surgery, and your muscle and connective tissue ahve had too much tension on them for too long and it's finally catching up with you.

Predictably, that pain that has come and gone will start to stay longer and be gone shorter.

It's the joy of an Achilles Tendonitis dynamic.

See Related: Accident Cut My Achilles Tendonitis Multiple Surgeries And Infection

See Related: Severed Achilles Tendon No Pain And Can Still Walk With A Limp Can I Just Not Treat?

Apr 29, 2014
Achilles tendon severed on a car bumper
by: kristy

Freak accident in 1989 when I was 8 I completely severed my Achilles tendon.

From what I remember I was in cast for at least 6 mo. I made complete recovery after several surgeries.

Now I'm 32 and yesterday I started getting really horrible pain any ideas?


Joshua Comments:

Hi Kristy.

Any ideas about what? About why you're having pain (assumably in the achilles)?

Sure. Things get tight, they stay tight, that causes problems over time.

It's a really simple explanation, but it's 100% accurate in general and in your case.

The basic answer is that you need to open up the muscle and connective tissue in the back of the lower legs (the one at least, might as well do both as one side often tries to mimic the other side).

A more complete answer is in Reversing Achilles Tendonitis ebook.

This is a super simple and short answer to a general question. If you have more specific questions etc, I'm happy to answer.

Sep 05, 2013
Broken Bottles And Achillies Tendon
by: Barb

61 years ago I stepped on a broken bottle I didn't see. It severed my tendon and everything else clear to the bone. I'm sitting at my computer because once again (as it has 2-3 times a year)I have tendonitis. Can't stand let alone walk. I've tried everything except another surgery. I'm happy to hear some people heal up from that terrible injury. Good luck to all of you.


Joshua Comments:


You have recurring tendonitis symptoms because of the Pain Causing Dynamic

Jan 06, 2013
Freak Accident Dropped Glass Severed Achilles
by: Cindy

I had a freak household accident on 07/18/2012. Was carrying a piece of glass to recycle when it wobbled and snapped . It cam down on the inside of my right ankle above ankle bone all the way to back of my calf.

I was rushed to trauma center, had an x-ray then received 10 stitches inside and 17 out. I was told no tendon damage and follow up with a doctor.

I then saw a foot an ankle surgeon 07/21/2012. He put me in a boot and told me to practice making the alphabet with my toes. I continued under his care . Then a week and a half ago my DR. ORDERED A MRI. I then had a consult with him on results of MRI.

Well , needless to say I now find out 2 months after accident that my big toe and arch tendon is totally severed and my Achilles is cut a little across and sliced down into tendon. I have a 3.5 cm gap in Achilles. I have another opinion from ortho, and appt. tomorrow with another foot and ankle surgeon.

My question is how does late diagnose effect my healing and recovery? The ortho said I would need surgery and nerve test.

I work on my feet as a make-up artist, I am healthy, 50 years old and not over-weight. My passion as an equestrian needs to know when I can get back in the saddle and back to work.

Please give me your thoughts and any information on recovery time.

Thanks so much!


Joshua Comments:

Hi Cindy.

I'm sorry to hear about that.

It looks like you've joined the elite club of people that dropped something and severed tendons in their foot/lower leg.

1. How did they miss that the first time around?? I'm not big on lawyers and litigation, but that's a pretty huge medical error. Xrays are crap at visualizing tendons.

2. Say more about the 'gap' in your Achilles. 3.5 cm is 1 3/8th in inches. That's pretty big. Does 'gap' mean, like it dug out/shaved off a chunk?

3. What was stitched internally the first time? Did they reattach the severed tendons? Sounds like not.

4. A late diagnosis is not great. The frayed ends of the severed parts of the tendon will have degraded/died some, so will have to be cut off so they can reattach healthy tissue. Hopefully this will be a very small length on either end. The big problem here is that this effectively shortens the muscle structures upon reattachment.

This can be dealt with, however, with the right self care.

5. Are you in or out of the US?

6. Please update me on what's happened in the months since you submitted this question, and we'll go from there.

Dec 19, 2012
by: Jennifer

Hi Joshua, I posted back in March of 2011. I guess I never realized you asked me if I actually severed the my Achilles. Answer is yes, it was a clean slice =/ I had surgery 5 days after to have it reattached. It's been almost 3yrs this New Years. I no longer do Crossfit but still incorporate CF in to my own workouts. I do however still have problems with strength in my left calf muscle. I wish I knew how to make that left calf look like the right one!


Joshua Comments:

Hi Jennifer.

I think I knew it was's been a while and I didn't read back through the tread.

The only thing I know of that can bet your achilles/leg back to a CrossFit level of ability to perform is The ARPwave System.

Skilled massage can help etc, but that's a long road.

Dec 19, 2012
Stray glass shard still there!
by: HLA

Feels kind of good knowing I'm not the only person to have a freak accident with glass shards to the ankle! Last month a bottle fell from a second story balcony and the shards sliced my ankle. The accident occurred overseas and the local ER didn't have an X-ray facility to ensure that all the glass was out before stitching me up.

While my Achilles tendon wasn't severed in the accident, my US doctor found a .2cm piece of glass that the ER missed. This piece is apparently lodged between my Achilles and ankle bone now. My doc originally said that it would probably be ok to leave the glass in and the pain will eventually go away as it heals but considering the location,,,,,I'm skeptical.


Joshua Comments:


Better the achiles than the head, I always say.

Well..if glass isn't causing a problem, then it may not be worth the trauma of a second surgery.

Depends on how active you are, how 'benign' the glass, it's size, how your body is responding to it, and it's position is, etc.

It makes sense to have it removed, but it may not be necessary. Just all depends.

Jul 27, 2012
Update on my status
by: Beth

Hi -

On February 13, 2012, I severed my Achilles tendon thanks to a brutal shard of glass. I posted to this page 2 days post surgery and was in a plaster cast. After a week, I was in a fiber glass cast and (though they changed a couple of times) that lasted for 4 weeks. Finally, I was in an adjustable air cast for 5 weeks and through two adjustments. I used crutches for a couple of weeks with the air cast and then walked on it. Because it was my rt. foot, I had to rent a special left foot accelerator so I could drive. I was going ABSOLUTELY CRAZY being immobile!

Anyway, I have been out of the air cast for about 2 1/2 months now. I have full flexation (same as my left) but I still have tightness. If I have been sitting for a long time (I'm a student) it is worse. I also have some lower calf pain and cramping frequently.

I wear a compression sock during the day to increase circulation, although swelling isn't as bad as it was a month ago. Things are getting better, but certainly not 100% yet. I still limp when I walk. My hope is to be back to 100% by February, 2013, which will be 1 year.

I will be starting my clinical rounds for school (Respiratory Therapy) and I will need to be able to tolerate running around and being on my feet for 12 hours. For those of you who are recently injured, it does get better. I found that flexing and pointing my foot after the cast came off was the best way to increase movement. Do it slowly (don't want to reinjure!) but regularly. Good luck!


Joshua Comments:

Hi Beth.

Thanks for the update!

I concur! Constant motion (lengthening/shortening) of the structure is IMPORTANT for recovering strength and flexibility.

Even though things are tight, it's a good thing you have the flexibility.

Make sure to see: Magnesium for Tendonitis. You need it. That will help things work better. THat cramping is either due to lack of Magnesium (most certainly) and/or from muscles being stretched tight what with the surgery reattachment shortening things, time in the cast shrink wrapping connective tissue, getting back on it, etc.

It's never to late to apply what you'll learn on the How To Reduce Inflammation page.

And that will definitely help after a 12 hour day on your feet.

Jul 23, 2012
Achillles Tendon Blasted with the blade
by: Darlin G.G.

I was helping my dad assemble his bird cage,when handing him a tool,lost my balance, a heavy metal bar with a sharp edge fell on the back of my heel after I fell. My tendon was reattached at the hospital. Feb 4 2012. what puzzles me is my Doctor took my boot and stitches off after only three weeks ! I am 52 1/2 years of age. Needless to say he is a new Doctor, my old Doctor retired. I was just researching how to treat myself with therapy, instead of wasting time going through my insurance, March 15 2012 I slipped on the local bus inside on some water that hadnt dried (I assume ) got off limping,wore my crutches for 1 full day was in excrutiating pain for around 1 week and 1/2 then the pain subsided.

I am now awaiting ultrasound appointment 1 more week. I made an incident report. The bus ..... whoever was in charge didnt even check the video, for verification (how rude) they denied and refused my report stating I had 6 months to sue.

I am hopefully awaiting to hear and see my tendon DID NOT DETACH.


Joshua Comments:

Hi Darlin.

Keep us updated!

(I'm not lawyer, but I don't think there's a 6 month window for a lawsuit....)

Mar 24, 2012
sliced tenden by bottle bounced of a wall and sliced through 3/4 of my tenden
by: polly

4years age I dropped a bottle which bounced off the wall, broke and sliced through my achilles tendon at the top of my ankle. I had sugery within 4 hours, a cast to my groin for 3 weeks, then a reduced one to my knee for 3weeks. Pyhsio everyday for a month.I have been walking fine since then. This last year though I have had a feeling of tightness in my calf and pain behind my knee. I would be interesded in what you suggest I can do to releive this.


Joshua Comments:

I'm starting to get freaked out by the number of people I've heard of who 'dropped a bottle and sliced through my achilles tendon'.

What are the chances?!? What are the odds?!?

Anyhoo...the answer to your question is:

Structures (connective tissue) have shortened. You need to lengthen them back out.

You were immobilized for a certain amount of time, and connective tissue shrunkwrapped. Your tendon was stitched back together, which pulls things tighter. You had surgery, which creates scar tissue and tightening up.

You've been walking find, but it's catching up to you, and your body is starting to lose the battle.
The simple answer is, gentle but frequent/persistent stretching/lengthening, and massage designed to lengthen and mobilize fascia (connective tissue).

If you need more than that, let me know.

Feb 15, 2012
severed achilles tendon from shard of glass in trash bag
by: Beth

Two days ago a trash bag fell over and a large shard of glass went into the back of my rt foot severing my Achilles tendon. I had surgery that night and am now in a plaster cast. I will get the fiberglass cast next week. I am reading all these stories about the long recovery and am not looking forward to it. What strikes me is how many people this has happened to!

All my friends talk about what a freak accident this was. Thank you all for your stories. It really is helpful to me as I begin this recovery process.

Nov 19, 2011
Jennifer's Reply -- Achilles Tendon Severed At Heel In Accident
by: Jennifer

I would like to say that I've been doing great in Crossfit. I've learned many great stretches and I work out with physical therapists so I'm usually in good hands. I actually completed my first warrior dash today...running and exercise is now part of my life :)


Joshua Comments:

Use it or lose it!

Nov 18, 2011
Broken Grey Goose bottle cut through my heel and nerves
by: Anonymous

Hi, I too have had a severed achilles tendon. I also severed 1/2 of my big toe tendon and alot of nerves. It has been almost 3 months since I have worked and I am told that it will be 6 months until I can run again.

A broken grey goose bottle neck went through my heel at work. The bottle neck was in a black trash bag that I never saw. I too am learning how to walk all over again. No weight bearing for over 2 months. Ready for this to be over but still have a long way to go. I understand anyone that has gone through this. It is frustrating and I have learned how to have more patience with this injury.

Mar 17, 2011
ME TOO! --Achilles Tendon Severed At Heel In Accident

WOW...I'm trying to do some research on exercise regimens and severed achilles and came across this page. This exact thing happened to on the floor and I stepped right in to it. What are the odds =)

It's been 14mths since my injury and I still have issues at times with walking. The pain is gone and I am up to running 10mins straight.

I'm about to start Crossfit and am curious if the weights and jumping will reinjure me. I feel like I can do this but I am scared of my ankle.

Any thoughts??


Joshua Comments:

Crossfit has a lot of jump roping, box jumping, and running. just all depends.

What kind of issues do you have walking?

Did you actually sever a tendon?

How is running?

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