What if you wait too long for the surgery after torn Achilles tendon?

by Joon
(Baltimore, MD)

I am 44 and a weekend soccer warrior. I have ruptured Achilles tendon while playing soccer. It's been 35 days since. At first, I did not know what it was. I thought I was kicked by someone.

Being new to Achilles tendon rupture, I neglected the injury as I always did hoping it would heal by its own.

After 3 weeks, the swelling subsided but was not able to walk. It's when I visited my friend who is chiropractor, I found out that I might have ruptured Achilles tendon. After dong some research thru internet about signs and symptoms of Achilles tendon rupture, I was sure of it.

However, I am still able to move my foot in any directions without any pain. It's just that when I walk, I walk flatfoot. And I notice that there is a sunk gap(1/2 inch) on the back of my ankle. Does this mean I have a partial tear instead of full tear?

You might wonder why I am not going to the doctor immediately? Well, due to the financial difficulty, I have canceled the insurance right before getting injured. What a BUMMER! I have requested to have the insurance to be reinstated.

But I was told to apply all over again and that's what I am waiting for. At the same time, I am hoping the insurance company will not deny my claim when I do go to the doctor for the injury.

So my question is what could happen if I wait too long for a surgery?

Thank you in advance for reading my story and I will appreciate if you could answer my question.


Joshua Answers:

Hi Joon.

Yikes. Achilles Tendon Rupture is no fun.

Did you have any Achilles Tendonitis problem before that happened?

Well....it's a bit hard to say with out seeing your leg/foot in person, but:

It's either fully ruptured
(not likely but certainly possible) or mostly torn.

So you couldn't walk at all at 3 weeks, but can now? That's a good sign.

Will you heal? At this point based on the fact that you went from not being able to walk to being able to walk, I'd say "Sort of, Yes."

Meaning, you'll heal some and survive, but you're not going to be playing soccer any time soon, probably never. It just all depends, but it's safe to say you will NOT recover back to 100%, or even 90% all on your own.

Depending on what exactly tore (achilles? Some other structure? What do you mean 'flat foot'?) sets the stage for what to expect.

Worst case scenario, there's a full tear, and the ends start to rot, setting you up for infection and a trip to the emergency room (DON'T TAKE Levaquin!).

Best case scenario, things heal up such that you can walk around, etc. Downside there is the structure may always be 'weak', meaning, no running, jumping, etc, without risk of more tear.

Plus, you'll have a constant Tendonitis dynamic, so be aware of that.

See: What Is Tendonitis

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 What if you wait too long for the surgery after torn Achilles tendon?

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Jun 10, 2018
5 years post achilles rupture surgery still have swelling and pain
by: Cynthia

In March of 2013 I fell from a stool in my home and heard what sounded like a gun shot.

The pain in my left ankle was so intense and I could not stand or walk. After going to the emergency room at the local hospital, I was told that it only appeared to be a strain and to follow up at the orthopedic clinic in a week. The week long wait was almost unbearable.

When I finally made it to the clinic the doctor examined me, did x-rays and told me that it was an upper ankle sprain. I had heard stories about what happens when the Achilles is torn and I was certain this was my case but I trusted the diagnosis of the doctor.

After several weeks of pain, swelling, and discomfort, not to mention numerous doctor visits, the doctor finally ordered and MRI and the results showed that my Achilles was indeed ruptured. I was scheduled for surgery the next day, in June, three months after my fall.

I went through all of the post surgery routines with the cast, boot, and physical therapy. Two years later I still had no strength in my ankle and it still bothered me so I visited a specialist and she put me through more physical therapy and I was faced with the possibility of another surgery. I opted to go through intense physical therapy to avoid surgery but it didn't really help.

After almost five years, the pain and swelling is just as bad as it was the day of my injury. What could be the reason for this and what does it mean when the doctor says she may have to replace the muscle in my ankle?


Joshua Comments:

Hi Cynthia.

Wow, that was some pretty shoddy medical care you got there. "Hey, it's just a strain!" Ugggh.

1. The doctor said she may have to replace the 'muscle' in your ankle?? I'm hoping you meant to say tendon or even ligament.

2. One of the downsides of waiting so long to get surgery is that the ends of the tendons go bad and more has to be shaved off before reconnection.

This leaves your muscles and connective tissue (attached to the tendon, basically) overstretched and unhappy post-reconnection surgery.

Also, surgery ignores all the causes of the rupture (basically, the tendonitis dynamic: too tight muscle and connective tissue, chronic inflammation, and lack of nutrition).

So post surgery you have tightness, inflammation, and lack of nutrition all working together to cause...well...tightness, inflammation, and lack of nutrition....which long story short causes pain and problem like you are experiencing.

3. The PT and rehab etc didn't effectively get the muscle back to a functional state. Too tight, unhappy, short on nutrition...and there you are limping along.

It's possible the surgery nicked or severed an important nerve or two, but from your explanation of your scenario that doesn't sound like it applies to you. If you do have nicked/severed nerves and only have the symptoms you do have, then you're lucky lucky.

4. A doctor that wants to do another surgery, unfortunately, doesn't understand any of that. That doctor thinks that there's something wrong with the tendon, and thus, "EUREKA! We'll just replace the tendon and everything will be awesome!".

Mar 07, 2015
1/25/15 ruptured achilles tendon surgery March 6th, 2015
by: Lamont G

Hey all!

I ruptured my Achillies Tendon 1/25/15 pro bowl weekend Pros VS Joes Flag football game! I had the same injury 2000 in training camp in MN. Had the surgery and super fast recovery! Able to run and play some sports.

This time I just started a new position and my benifts don't start until March 1st, so surgery it's going to be until the 6th of march how bad is that?


Joshua Comments:

Hi Lamont.

This thread addresses your question.

And...ya gotta do what ya gotta do, so if you need to wait a while....

It sounds like you re-ruptured the same side as the 2000 injury?

Dec 13, 2014
Nightmare flat foot and back pain and failed surgery
by: Joshua

Had a flat foot condition in 21-year-old male with mild low back pain. The low back pain was managed well and not disabling.

The surgeon said the low back pain was caused by the Achilles Tendon being too tight.

Told that the surgery would cure the low back pain.

The procedure was designed to lengthen the Tendon, allowing the heel more room to move: the expectation was that the flat foot would go away and the calf muscle would lengthen reducing stress on the low back.

Six months later the resulting scar caused intractable pain in the tendon and calf.

Now the patient has disablement of the ankle, foot, and knee. The Flat foot is worse and now painfull. The low back pain remains the same. The surgury was successful. The outcome was not.


Joshua Comments:

Hi Joshua.

You didn't leave your email nor check the notification box so I hope you find this (but I doubt you will so I'm not going to spend too much time on the response).

I recommend this page to anybody that's looking at surgery: Quiz Your Doctor

No doctor can predict a surgery is going to fix the problem much less get rid of back pain.

And that doctor didn't say WHY the 'tendon was tight'. Why do tendons get tight? Becasue the muscle connected to them is tight and pulling on it.

Tendons are just cable. They don't get tight. They get taut. Want them to not be that? Relax the muscles. No surgery required.

And you'll never get a money back guarantee from a surgeon.

Along those lines, I disagree with the assessment of the surgery and outcome. The surgery was not a success. It was a failure. Unless me stabbing you with a knife and suturing the wound closed counts as 'success'.

See Related: I Still Have Foot Pain 2 Years After My Plantar Fasciotomy

Apr 15, 2013
Help Me Rhonda
by: Patricia Moynihan

It's 5 years since I ruptured my Achilles tendon and I have not walked with ease in all that time. So, I've booked surgery for May 2.

Now having read all the literature, I'm getting cold feet. Do you have any patients who recovered well from such belated surgery? Or am I the brain dead moron I think I am?


Joshua Comments:

Hi Rhonda.

Partial rupture or complete rupture?

How 'bad' has it been these last years, walking etc?

What did the surgeon say, as far as likelihood of a decent fix, the health of the torn tissue, how much cutting has to be done before reattaching, etc?

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