What to expect when recovering from an Achilles rupture

If you’re an athlete, any major injury can seem like a major setback. At best, you’ll be on the sidelines for a few days — and at worst, you’ll never play again. It’s not unusual for the athletes I treat to be bummed about being hurt. I get it — missing practices, competitions and training can be sad, especially when you’ve put considerable time and energy into training. That’s why I always make sure to discuss treatment options with my patients, including the details of post-procedure recovery. A big injury doesn’t have to put an end to an athletic career, and patience and rehab can help optimize recovery time.

While all athletes are unique, John Orozco is a great example of recovery from a sports injury. He’s headed to Rio this summer to compete with the U.S. men’s gymnastics Olympic team. As you might imagine, Orozco is excited. But just last year, the gymnast wasn’t feeling so confident. In 2015, Orozco ruptured his Achilles tendon. It was a devastating blow. After taking time to absorb and grieve the injury, he decided to face the challenge with optimism: “I’m counting my blessings and weathering this storm because it’s the only choice I have,” Orozco said in a Facebook post the day before he was scheduled for a repairing surgery.

Now, he’s headed to Brazil.

When you rupture the tendon, you know it. In addition to feeling a sudden, intense pain, you might also hear a pop or snap as it tears. An Achilles tendon rupture can be particularly tough because it hurts and makes even walking difficult. Ruptures often occur as the result of repeated stresses and sudden movements during play. Overuse, poor stretching habits, and jumping back into an activity after a long break can also be a factor in a tear. Even if the injury is obvious, it’s important to get a proper evaluation and official diagnosis by a foot and ankle specialist.

Treatments for a rupture a case-specific. In select situations, a nonsurgical technique may be employed. However, the common choice is surgical repair. There are now options for minimally invasive surgeries, which require smaller incisions and are appropriate in certain patients.

Regardless of the chosen procedure, rehabilitation will be necessary and essential for a proper full recovery. You can expect to complete stretching and strengthening exercises that work both the leg muscles and the Achilles tendon. While you won’t see an overnight fix, I tell my patients that, with the right moves and attitude, they can expect to return to their normal activity levels following four to six months of recovery.

An Achilles rupture is no walk in the park, but under the care of some of the finest professionals in New York, you’ll be well on your way to getting back in the game — whatever your sport of choice. Contact me today with any questions about your options for recovery.