For anyone who plays or even watches sports, they know that an Achilles tendon injury can be a career altering injury. But for Carlos, a former semi-pro soccer player, he has had to deal with this injury not once, but twice – and is still on the field playing soccer and even he is surprised. In June of 2016 Carlos suffered an Achilles tendon tear in his right leg while playing soccer. He sought the opinion of a local foot and ankle specialist and underwent a traditional Achilles tendon repair surgery. “After my first surgery, it took me almost a year and three months to be able to comfortably walk and bear weight on my foot,” recalls Carlos. “I was in a cast for 6 months and then a walking boot for another 6 months and during that time I had lost a lot of muscle in my calf. For someone who plays soccer, leg strength is very important and it took me a very long time to regain that strength.”
Despite all of this, Carlos returned to playing soccer until June of 2018 when he suffered another Achilles tear, this time in his left foot. “I was playing soccer in Seattle and I had some slight discomfort in my foot, but nothing major,” says Carlos. “But then I tried to fake my defender with my body and when I planted my foot to change direction I heard the ‘pop’. It sounded and felt exactly like the last injury I had and I knew right away I had torn my other Achilles. I couldn’t believe it.”
However, this time Carlos sought the opinion of Dr. Richard Lamour, a Fellowship Trained Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Specialist at Olympia Orthopaedic Associates. Knowing what the recovery had been like for his right Achilles surgery, Carlos prepared himself for the worst. But to his surprise, Dr. Lamour told Carlos that he was a candidate for a new and innovative form of Achilles repair surgery that significantly expedites the recovery process. “Traditional Achilles repair surgery requires an 8-10 inch incision from the heel to the calf so that the tear can be visualized and repaired,” says Dr. Lamour. “However, this long incision and the large exposure needed to fix the tear contributes to the lengthy recovery time after an Achilles repair and potential wound complications.”
This new minimally-invasive procedure used by Dr. Lamour is performed through a 1 incision to reapproximate the torn ends and repairing the tendon using a knotless technique which is much stronger than traditional repair with knots . “In the right patient, this is a very effective alternative to the traditional procedures and patients are weight bearing after only 1-2 weeks and are out of the post-surgical boot in 8 weeks,” says Dr. Lamour. “Also, the smaller incision substantially reduces potential wound complications after surgery.” The end result of this procedure is that the Achilles is more stable biomechanically and therefore Physical Therapy can begin sooner than with a traditional Achilles repair. Physical Therapy is an integral part of post-surgical recovery as it helps restore flexion and stability to the repaired tendon.
Unlike Carlos’ first procedure, he did not have to wait several weeks to begin Physical Therapy and therefore did not lose the muscle mass in his calf. Carlos began his Physical Therapy at Penrose Physical Therapy with Jennifer Penrose. Jennifer noted how well Carlos progressed in comparison to patients with similar injuries. “Using our customized protocols, Carlos met all of the accelerated expectations and was full weight bearing ahead of schedule.”
Just a few months after surgery, Carlos is shocked by the difference in the recoveries. “After 3 months, I was able to walk and jog with no pain,” says Carlos. “I have even been back to the field to practice and I can dribble and kick and it feels like the injury never even happened.” This new procedure is just one of the medical innovations being utilized at Olympia Orthopaedic Associates.
The Orthopaedic, Sports Medicine and Foot and Ankle Specialists at Olympia Orthopaedic Associates continue to lead the region is the most advanced non-surgical and surgical techniques as part of their continued commitment to patient satisfaction and clinical outcomes. If you are suffering from an orthopaedic, spine or sports injury contact Olympia Orthopaedic Associates to schedule an appointment with a specialist at any of the locations throughout Olympia and get back to Your Life in Motion.