Soccer Player 30 Years After Achilles Tendon Surgery

by Peter P

In April 1982 while Playing NCAA Division 1 College soccer game, I popped my left achilles tendon, a most painful experience.

I was fortunate that a professional PHD Athletic Trainer was present, becuase I was clueless to what happened. My tendon had a visible indentation and it appeared that when I walked, I was stepping in a hole. The Trainer immediately applied an air cast with ice and I was rushed to a quality midwest hospital.

A semi retired surgeon was flown in to perform the surgery. He examined the xrays/pictures and explained that there are 2 ways to treat 1) re-attached thru surgery or cast but studies have shown that surgeries are more successful.

I spent the next 4 months wearing various cast and enduring endless stories of never playing again and that I should worry about walking properly.

I eventually had my last cast removed and was shocked on seeking my left foot looking like bones covered with skin. It was very weak. I started my rehabilitation immediately, by elevating my foot from the perch of a dictionary several times per day to gain strength and flexibility. Within weeks I was walking without significant limp. I returned to college from the summer break in August of 1982 and started ice cold water therapy and later ultra sound was added.

I returned to my full time starting position in early September of 1982. However, before each game my ankle and the point of injury received a special wrap which felt like a micro cast. I went on to play 3 more years of College Soccer receiving numerous awards including All American, after college I played professionally in Canada briefly before retiring to recreational leagues.

Its been thirty years and the only discomfort I have is sometimes (every couple years) I feel a shocking pinch on
the inner left part of the repaired tendon, otherwise I have no discomfort.

Question: What causes this pinching discomfort? (It eventually goes away and I am able to return to playing)


Joshua Answers:

Hi Peter P.

You didn't say it, but I'm thinking that you had the Achilles tendon surgery.

Achilles Tendon Rupture is generally bad news. I've heard from a couple people that they ruptured theirs but could still stand and walk. Generally, if the Achilles ruptures, one can't put any weight on the foot, certainly can't walk, and surgery is the necessary (if at all possible) option.

It sounds like your recovery went pretty darned well.

SO now you have pinching pain on the achilles tendon.

It's safe to say that you have all the factors that make up Tendonitis

See: What Is Tendonitis

But as far as the pinching pain symptom/sensation, I need to know more.

1. How bad does it hurt?

2. Define/describe 'pinching'.

3. How long does it hurt? When does it go away?

4. What makes it start hurting? Does it always make it start hurting?

5. Anything else relevant and/or of interest?

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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Nov 29, 2014
Open Plantar Fascia Release-for College Athlete
by: Kate

I guess I will start from the beginning.

A little over a year ago, I started to have pain in my left heel. I did not really think much of it- and I was even told that it was probably just a bruised heel that needed to be waited out. So I waited and iced, but the pain did not subside. Not to mention I was always on my feet. I was playing on a women's semi-professional soccer team all summer (At least 3 hours of soccer per day) and then I would go run/workout for another 2 hours, and then I would waitress for about 6 hours everyday.

When the pain did not subside after one month I went to PT. They told me that it might be plantar fasciitis and that stretching would be my best bet for a fix. At this point my semi-professional summer season was done- but I continued to run everyday because my college season would be starting in less than a month. I saw PT 3 times a week and stretched vigorously.

My pain was never while just walking- only running.

My college soccer season started and I just played on it without question- and I didn't even really continue much treatment besides icing and some stretching because honestly it wasn't too unbearable.

Then it got unbearable. It was to the point that I couldn't walk off the field after games- and I had to sit out on some practices in order to be ready for games... even my Achilles was very tight. Not to mention I just wasn't playing the same as I normally do. I did some TENS unit and ultrasound before/after practices and games but it did not let up, so I went to a doctor.

The doctor took x-rays and recommended a cortisone steroid shot. There were three weeks of season left including playoffs and conference tournament. So I agreed, and got the shot on a Friday afternoon. My pain was completely gone. I played a full game the following day- and I played very well. The pain was gone for the rest of season.

Then- post season it hurt again. Again- I didn't do much treatment besides icing and stretching. I told myself I would just take a month off (during winter break) and not run or do anything at all in order to heal it.

That didn't work- and as I started playing soccer again I started to see my AT for regular treatment and massages.

That didn't work- so I went to a PT doctor and I saw him 2 times a week for 4 weeks. I was following strict orders of stretching 7 times everyday and when I saw him he did this thing where he scraped my whole leg with a plastic tool to get out the bumps in my calf/hamstring and most importantly foot. He pushed very hard on my exact area of pain in my heel. This whole month I stopped doing all physical activity again.

That didn't work- So I continued stretching and got another cortisone shot in order to go to tryouts for the semi-professional team again. It was April at this time and the shot did not relieve any pain at all- so I didn't go to tryouts. At this point it was May (almost a year after my pain had started) and I hadn't gone on a run since last November. I was still stretching/doing ultrasound. The PT doctor that gave me the second cortisone shot recommended a minimally invasive surgery- I forget what it is called.

I decided to get a second opinion. This new doctor recommended I get a MRI. So I did- and it turns out my plantar fascia tendon was not just inflamed but actually torn- and also another tendon called the brevis tendon on the outside of my foot was torn as well (not completely). He recommended a boot or crutches. I wore a boot/crutches for 3 weeks.

That didn't work- so I saw a new doctor. I told him this whole story and he said he would do an open plantar fascia release surgery for me. My brevis tendon never hurt me much so we didn't do any surgery on that- just the fascia. Basically this surgery included cutting away (releasing) the tension in my fascia to a certain degree.

I got the surgery. (This was a risky decision for my life style. Not only am I someone who has played sports and specifically soccer year round since I was 5- but I had to not play semi-pro for the summer and also I had to keep in mind that my college season started exactly 3 months after my surgery date. My doctor told me the healing process was 3-6 months, but I was hoping for 3 so that I could play the sport I loved at the beginning of season. I also had to quit waitressing and was offered an incredible internship that I then also had to turn down because of the surgery. I was making zero money and I had zero money. I still am not sure how I will be paying my tuition bill coming up)

Week 1-3: I did not do anything. NOTHING. I was on crutches for when I needed to get around- and many pain killers. No pain really on the pain killers, and I did not get the stitches wet. I had a post-op appointment once a week and my doctor said that it was looking very very good.

Week 3: I wore a walking boot everywhere. I still had no job so I was not doing much.

Week 4: My doctor told me I could switch to regular shoes and start doing things like swimming and biking. Yes! I went on a family vacation that week and whenever we were walking around for long periods of time I would wear my boot. I had started to have pain again in my heel.

Week 5-6: I began to ditch the boot entirely. I was swimming and working out my abs/arms. I even sometimes went to the field and shot the ball or juggled... (which I probably should not have). I got a job- that required me to stay on my feet... so I wear the boot while at work. I have not been cycling because I am not really a fan of that.

Week 7: This is where I am now. I am beginning to worry because I still have pain in my foot. Almost twinges of sharp pain sometimes. I was just told I can start rehabbing and strengthening my foot- so hopefully that will help.

I am one month away from my college season and emotionally I need to start playing soccer then. It has been a long stressful year. I am very worried that the surgery did not work or maybe that I have not been resting enough. I still have not been running at all. I have an appointment with my doctor in one week... hopefully there will be good news.


Joshua Comments:

Hi Kate.

How's the foot etc now 4 months after writing this? I'm guessing you aren't playing college soccer.

Give me an update, and we'll go from there.

See Related: Plantar Fascia Release And Heel Spur Removal One Month Ago

Jul 19, 2012
doctors say my Achilles tendon is on the verge of snapping
by: Anonymous

Hi im 12 and have just been told I have tendonites. I play football 3 times a week. My doctor said its on the verge of snapping. I'm scared to move about much.


Joshua Comments:

Why exactly do your doctors think it's on the verge of snapping?

The Achilles tendon. or some other tendon in the area?

Fear is good sometimes. Use it as motivation to learn about this situation.

Tell me more.

ANd know that primarily two things are at play:

1. Nutritional deficiency
2. Muscles too tight and not able to relax.

You need to bring your parent(s) into this conversation. And, kudo's to you for having the motivation and intelligence for going and looking for answers. That's the only way problems ever really get solved.

May 09, 2012
Therapy Q&A for old Achilles rupture and reattachment surgery
by: Anonymous

"And now and/or historically, what do you do for self care/self therapy/any other therapy for this.

If anything, does it help, not help, etc/"

Ice for 20 minutes, once or two times per day, nutritional support (soy protein), occasional heat treatment, light flexibility exercise and rest.

The pain appears to occur less frequent and not as intense.


Joshua Comments:

See: How To Reduce Inflammation

Ice for 20 minutes a couple times a day just isn't going to do a damn thing.

Personally I'd use a good organic whey protein instead of soy. Too many problems with how soy is grown/processed.

Having said that, protein may, or may not, be the issue. I'd look more at decades of increasing tightness of the muscle and connective tissue structures.

Did you get Reversing Achilles Tendonitis ebook? If not, I suggest that you do.

The pinching is a symptom. (Specifically for you) too tight structures send off a pain/problem signal when you're moving and when you're at rest. Unless you do something effective things will continue to tighten over time. And generally, the more you feel pain, the more the nervous system turns up the dial on the defensive/protective mechanism.

I can't say for sure, but the pinching sensation is probably from small parts of one or more of the lower leg muscles firing in spasm, which long story short sends a pain signal which you can feel most anywhere.

Decades of tightness. Process of Inflammation. Nervous system that's been eyeballing that achilles (old injury) for decades.

Etc. You got a lot going on in there. Rest isn't going to correct any of those issues.

The good news is, even though it's been decades in the making, with the right self care done appropriately, the lower leg can pretty quickly be rehabbed. It just takes some time and diligence and the right tools.

May 08, 2012
Tendon Pain when running 30 years after achilles rupture and surgery
by: Peter P

Yes, I had a complete and clean rupture of the left achilles tendon, surgery was uncomplicated and successful per the Surgeon's description.

1. How bad does it hurt?

A shocking intermittent pain that projects upwards from the left side of the tendon. Occurs only while playing.

2. Define/describe 'pinching'.

A quick jolt of pain projecting upwards

3. How long does it hurt? When does it go away?

Only hurts intermittently while playing. Occurs every 15 to 20 minutes and last for a few seconds. Goes away when I elevate my foot (lifting off the ground).

4. What makes it start hurting? Does it always make it start hurting?

Running and making quick turns

5. Anything else relevant and/or of interest?

Two weeks ago when it started I had to discontinue playing after 45 minutes. I rested for 14 days and was able to play for 90 minutes, but with limited running (about) 50% of my weekly average. The jolt of pain occurred about 4-5 times, but I was able to continue unlike 14 days prior.

A month prior to this injury, I stepped up my weekly training session by adding an extra day of running for an hour.

Walking is normal, I only feel pain while playing and the longer I play the more frequent occurrence.


Joshua Comments:


And now and/or historically, what do you do for self care/self therapy/any other therapy for this.

If anything, does it help, not help, etc/

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