Charlie Horse After Torn Achilles Tendon Surgery

by James Guy
(Abbeville, La)

Well, the day before labor day I was playing basketball and tore my left Achilles tendon but not completely.

Last Sunday night, I felt a pop and my orthopaedic surgeon scheduled an MRI. It showed it tore completely and surgery would be required. So on 8/8/2011 I had the surgery and was put on pain meds and antibiotics.

Now for a couple of days I have experienced what feels like a Charlie horse pain in my calf muscle.

It only hurts when my leg is down as im walking with my crutches and stops once my leg is elevated. What in the world is going on???

I called my surgeon's nurse and she said as long as I can move my toes and my calf is not swollen, then its normal. I need some second opinions. Can anyone help me???


Joshua Answers:

Hey James.

How's the leg doing now?

Getting a charlie horse in the calf feeling after surgery for is pretty common.

Here's why you get that charlie horse in the calf:

1. You have an Achilles Tendonitis dynamic which includes a Pain Causing Dynamic and release of pain causing dynamic. You can be pain free while this mechanic is in place.

2. The tighter a muscle is, the less able it is to A. perform work and B. absorb force.

3. Long story short, all that force has to go somewhere, and that where is the spot your achilles tendon tore.

4. Surgeon goes in, generally cuts a bit of the tendon off to clean up the edges, then reconnects it. This shortens the tendon (that is attached to a too tight/too short muscle) and essentially PULLS on the structure.

5. So you're in a cast (or not) after surgery, your structures can't shorten or lengthen (to allow the tendon pieces to knit back together).

6. Rember the 'pulling'? Imagine trying to hold a biceps curl with a 15 pound weight 24/7. It's going to hurt after too long. The muscle/structure is getting pulled into length, and it doesn't want to get pulled into length, so it contracts.

7. You lay down and rest, and it's still working hard to resist getting pulled into length.

So what do you do about that?

1. See: Magnesium for Tendonitis

2. If you're not in a cast, learn How To Reduce Inflammation. While your calf may not have been swollen, there is still a huge Process of Inflammation in place that is releasing pain enhancing chemical.

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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Oct 14, 2016
Charlie horses years late
by: Melissa

So I ruptured my achillies tendon in August of 2013. For the past month I have been having Charlie horses st least 3 times a week, in just that leg.

Could this be a side effect if the initial injury and surgery?


Joshua Comments:

Hi Melissa.

Surgery definitely has something to do with it, but it's more a function of:

All the factors that were involved in the previous rupture were still in place after the surgery.

And the surgery (basically) helped make them worse.

And while timing can be sooner or later, it's finally catching up to you again.

Hopefully it's just magnesium insufficiency causing the cramping. (See the Magnesium For Tenodonitis link in this thread.)

But there's likely too much muscle and connective tissue tightness that, long story short, is causing problems.

Did you have a complete or partial rupture?

How'd the surgery and recovery go?

Jul 02, 2012
help, constant tightness after unnecessary surgery
by: Anonymous

i had surgery on my achilles tendon 17 years ago on my right leg to remove a lump no problems with that leg and 4 years ago had a lump removed from my left leg when i came to after surgery the surgon said he open my achilles but every thing looked fine so he stiched me back up still was having problems went back to see him he said i have tendontis and streching execise would improve it well here are am 4 years later and its still feels like something is pulling and i get a stinging sensation


Hi Anonymous.

It's safe to say that you DO have an Achilles Tendonitis dynamic.

Lumps are just symptoms. They're not the problem. Surgery to remove a lump just removes the lump (and creates new problems), it doesn't remove the problem.

Same with Bone Spurs.

The problem with regular stretching is that when you stretch, limber tissue lengthens and tight tissue doesn't so much.

You've been doing regular stretching. Which can certainly be effective, it just all depends. It depends on your nutritional status, see: Magnesium for Tendonitis.

It depends on if the correct things are getting stretched, and if they're getting stretched or if they're getting -lengthened-. It depends on what your nervous system is up to and how protective it's being.

It depends on WHY the tightness is there in the first place. That's definitely more complicated, but it's safe to say that something's not working right, so something else has to work harder.

That's compensation pattern, and it's a downward spiral. See: Pain Causing Dynamic

Nov 29, 2011
Hey Joshua
by: James

Hey Joshua,
Thanks for the reply. My recovery so far has been lengthy but great. I just completed physical therapy last Wednesday and my tendon feels great. I can't run yet but can jog in place.

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