Severed Achilles Tendon - no pain and can still walk with a limp - can I just not treat ?

by Mac
(Park City, Utah, USA)

I severed my Achilles tendon 6 weeks ago. An MRI only just revealed a 2cm gap between the two ends of my Achilles tendon There is no sign of any fibrous material, just a totally clean break.

It hurt at the time, but generally I have received little pain, to none at all. I have been wearing a boot for about half of the latter period of the past six weeks.

I am male and 62 and I own my own business, quite simply being out of service for the time expected for surgery will mean I will have no business left at the end of it.

On which basis I am trying to find out, what happens if I do nothing ?

I have been told a boot is unlikely to help because the two ends are too far apart and a boot cannot achieve the angle required to get those to knit, plus it's been 6 weeks since the injury occurred.

So as it doesn't hurt and I can walk on it with only a slight limp, I am very tempted to just do nothing. Surely now it's torn, it's torn and the situation can't worsen or become more painful by just leaving it alone.?

In this economy one has to survive and if I proceed with Surgery, I will lose my business and then my home.

Please give me you honest and unbiased views on this.

Many thanks,


Joshua Answers:

Hi Mac.

Tendonitis definitely isn't your immediate issue.

See: What Is Tendonitis

If you had not said that you "...can walk on it with just a limp...", this would be my response:

You have two options.

Achilles Tendon reattachment surgery, or The ARPwave System.

Surgery to reattach the achilles tendon, with a 6-12 month recovery.

The ARPwave System can very likely heal the separation with out surgery (you'd have to talk to the ARPwave guys to confirm your specific situation), and then jumping rope in 8ish weeks.

Or, post surgery, jumping rope in 8ish weeks.

Those are your two options.


But, you said you can walk on it with just a limp. That's a rare thing. That means associated connective tissue is holding you up.

Generally, if there is a complete Achilles Tendon Rupture, one can't stand or walk without collapsing, because there's literally nothing holding the foot/ankle in place in relation to the lower leg (plus the brain forces a collapse as an attempt to prevent more injury).

But you can stand and walk.

Can you get away without surgery and/or the ARPwave? Maybe. -Probably- not for very long though.

You'll either limp along, likely for the rest of your life, or you'll take a step one day and down you'll go and that'll be it. Back to square one of needing surgery for sure, and possibily the ARPwave to avoid surgery (depends).

Complete Achilles tears are bad news. One can generally get by with a torn ACL ligament, but rarely if ever a major tear to an Achilles tendon.

Plus there's the risk of blood poisoning/infection if those torn ends start to decay/rot. Admittedly I don't know much about that aspect.

If you want to have ARPwave give you a call, let me know here or on the form on the ARPwave System page the above link points to.

More questions, more answers.

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 Severed Achilles Tendon - no pain and can still walk with a limp - can I just not treat ?

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Jan 14, 2016
Complete tear in Achilles tendon but I can still stand up
by: Charles

I had a MRI and orthopedic says I have a complete tear and there is a gap between the tendon.

But I am able to stand and walk with a limp.

But I cannot raise the heel of my foot while standing, but if i'm sitting down I can raise my heel off the ground.

This injury happened on 12-30-15 so it been about 2 weeks. It feels like its getting better and better.

My pain level is like a 1 or 2 and its the calf muscle that feels sore after walking on it and some soreness around the ankle and just above it.

So is my tendon really a complete tear? The Mri only shows my ankle a little bit above it,

Doctor says he cannot see tendon above ankle because of view and want me to just have surgery on 1-16-16. What do you think.

I can almost stand on on the 1 injured foot alone, but get pain from trying to balance it.


Joshua Comments:

I think:

1. You can still stand on a complete tear, depending.

2. Other structures are still connected, that accounts for some available strength/stability/movement.

3. The MRI either shows a complete tear, or it doesn't. Or the MRI doesn't have a clear view of what needs to be visualized.

I haven't seen said MRI, so I don't know.

Get a second and/or third opinion from another doctor/surgeon. They'll at least let you know if the MRI has a good view of the tendon/ruptured tendon.

4. If there is a complete rupture, it's not going to reconnect itself by itself. Depending, maybe you can live/be movile with a ruptured tendon, but unless you're VERY sedentary, I wouldn't recommend it, as it sets you up for further damage in the future when you take a step and fall and/or rip something else.

Jan 17, 2017
living without an achilles tendon
by: Anonymous82

I am a man 82 years old and my achilles tendon was initially severely strained when walking in Cornwall.

Subsequently a gung-ho osteopath ruptured it, without my realizing it.

I had to go abroad and then when I got back to England a physio told me that I should have an ultra sound scan which showed a total rupture.

It was decided that the ends of the tendon had healed and it would be difficult to do any thing about it.

So I have been living with this problem since the end of July last year- about six months.

I can now walk about a mile(rather slowly) on uneven ground(we have about 7 acres on the side of a hill).

I have no pain but get tired sooner than I used to.

There are two little muscles called: The petronius longus and the petronius brevis which are getting stronger and trying to take the place of my calf muscle.

So it is not too bad though I have to walk with one flat foot.


Joshua Comments:

Hi Anony82.

That's great news you can still walk around on that ruptured achilles, stand on it/put weight on it, etc.

Did the ends of the achilles tendon heal back together? Or did they mean that the severed ends healed over?

If the latter, they would have had to cut the very ends off and then reattach the tendon.

All in all, you're in a pretty good position (compared to a lot of other people with ruptured achilles tendons).

Not much pain, avoided the trauma and risk of surgery, avoided a long painful recovery, post surgery your achilles and attached structures would be TOO SHORT and that would likely be painful for along time/rest of your life.

Feb 21, 2017
follow up to my previous comments
by: Anonymous82

I have now been living without an achilles tendon for about 4 months and have had little sensible advice from health professionals.

I was advised to do 10 heel lifts twice a day. I felt that was not a serious excercise and began to increase the the number .

I can now do 350 heel lifts twice a day and am seeing a considerable increase in the size and strength of the two peronius muscles and am able to lift my left heel slightly when walking.

If I concentrate I can walk almost without a limp, but rather slowly.

I still have to put the instep of my left foot on the rungs of a ladder but am working on it. So, all is not lost.



Joshua Comments:

Well, all in all, that's incredibly good considering your achilles tendon is severed/completely ruptured.

Not ideal of course, but pretty dang good considering. 350 heel lifts is more than most 20 year olds can do these days.....

Jul 18, 2017
Achilles debridement and mrsa infection
by: Mattmatt

I cut through my Achilles to the tibia(I think that what its called)also severing the tibia nerve in March.

I had surgery to reattach though caught mrsa and had a debridement 2weeks later.

Approx a month after that I contracted staph again and hence another debridement that was 8may.

I'm now in moonboot but have not been told if Achilles will reattach by itself or need surgery very vague(public system) what is estimated time of healing after debridement and will I get sensation back in my toes.

Thank you.


Joshua Comments:

Hi Matt.

Ouch, that's a tough road!

How did that cut happen?

1. "have not been told if Achilles will reattach by itself "

What do you mean? If you had reattachment surgery, it's reconnected and will/should heal back together.

2. If the nerve was severed, it's unlikely that you'll get feeling back, much less any time soon.

What nerve(s) exactly were severed?

Did they attempt to reattach the nerves?

3. Can you wiggle your toes etc? Did you lose motor control when the nerve(s) were severed?
Or, how much motor control did you lose and where exactly?

4.Were you given any fluoroquinolone antibiotics like levaquin or cipro(floxacin)?

Oct 26, 2017
Life with no tendons
by: Claire

Both of my Achilles’ tendons were surgically removed along with a piece of each calf muscle after I lost the flesh on both legs due to an invasive strep infection 11 years ago.

I’m now 40 and although learning to walk was a long and difficult process, I have never collapsed or fallen. I was told that I’d never run again and although I still can’t tip toe, I can run, just not uphill. So far I can run for 20 minutes without stopping. There is life and an active one to boot without Achilles’ tendons!


Joshua Comments:

Really? Wow, that's awesome.

And aside from the terrible aspects of all that, REALLY interesting. The body is really amazing in many ways, and that you're able to walk and run one of those ways.

Tell us a little more about all that? What did the doctors predict pre-surgery? How do they explain your ability to walk and run? How did recovery and then rehab go?

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