The Cast

When I woke from Achilles tendon surgery, I had a heavy bandage (a compressive  Robert Jones dressing to be technical). The nerve block was working well, so I could neither feel nor move any of my toes.

achilles tendon surgery

When the feeling did finally come back, we went to the cast room, where I got my first cast. This one lasted 3 weeks, and I must admit, by the time it was ready to come off, it felt like I was close to being able to slip it off.

achilles tendon cast


This cast was cut off, Dr Turner and his assistants inspected the incision, and the stitches were removed. That caused me the most pain of the whole thing to date. My leg was then recasted. This took 37 minutes, including the nice Christmas candy stripe I asked for.

christmas cast

Casts are used with and without surgery for Achilles tendon ruptures. Either way, the object is to keep the Achilles tendon from moving at all so it can heal. Without surgery, the cast holds the ends of the rupture together. With surgery, the cast keeps the sewn-together ends of the rupture in place.

If you’re in pain, take the pain medications and get as much rest as possible. This is your chance to catch up on that sleep debt you’ve been building up all these years. But as soon as you can, you should get moving.

My doctors want the leg elevated as much as possible, so I’m using a knee roller (like a scooter, but with a place to rest your knee) most of the time. I have a walker, which I sometimes use to get around for short distances, and crutches, which I haven’t used much yet. Lots of options. Since I work at a computer, I was able to get in some full work days within three weeks.

One of the hardest things to get used to is doing without free hands. You know how much you enjoy carrying that fresh cup of joe outside, picking up the newspaper, and heading up to the deck for morning coffee and headlines? Or maybe doing the same with your favorite news source on your tablet? Forget it.

I’m usually in a robe these days, so I have a pocket for my phone. I’m learning to rely on my phone a lot.

You may be in a cast for as much as three months, so for your own sanity you’ll need to figure out how to do your work, help around the house, or otherwise keep yourself entertained. The people who live with you and love you will be able to stay sympathetic and positive — including bringing you your coffee — for a much longer time if you aren’t sitting around moping.

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