Resting Tension Strikes Again - A Setback

If you haven’t yet read my last post, I suggest starting with “Baby Steps” as this update is a follow-up to that. 

I received a disheartening email from my therapist today. She spoke with my doctor about the resting tension on my left, repaired side and my concern that it appeared to have less tension than my right side. She said that, “In general, it is not desired that the resting tension is less on the involved side, so we want to slow the progression down…” 

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The image on the left, taken before my surgery in November 2014, shows a comparison of the resting tension between my right and left ankles. The image on the right displays my resting tension today, January 15, 2015. While my new Achilles tendon does not appear to be quite as elongated as it had been before surgery, ideally, both ankles should rest at the same degree of flexion.

To slow the unwelcome lengthening, my doctor and therapist passed along some instructions for me to follow. Not knowing that I hadn’t removed any of the wedges in my boot, my doctor instructed me to replace the heel lifts so that my foot would again be locked at a greater degree of plantar flexion. Due to my concern over the resting tension last Saturday, I never removed any of the wedges, so this step is already complete. 

My therapist suggested I use the resistance band only for plantar flexion, inversion, and eversion, and hold off on dorsiflexion for now. In fact, since my last visit with the therapist, dorsiflexion is the only exercise I have been neglecting to perform. It requires anchoring the resistance band to a bedpost or other heavy object, and I’ve admittedly been lazy in that respect. 

My therapist also recommended that, when biking, I position my foot forward on the pedal so as not to place any dorsiflexion force on the ankle. Having gone through this whole process once before, I was already aware of this step as well.

I don’t understand how this could’ve happened. I’ve been wearing my walking boot and haven’t placed any weight on my foot when it’s outside of the boot, even accidentally. I haven’t done any passive stretching, either. I feel like I’ve been following my instructions to a T, other than neglecting the dorsiflexion exercise which may, in fact, turn out to be a blessing. I’m at a complete loss for how this tendon lengthening occurred.

A few nights ago I had a dream in which my doctor told me I would no longer be able to dance. He told me I’d have to play softball instead. Anyone who knows my love of dance (and shortage of hand-eye coordination) can understand why this dream was a nightmare.

In the next week and half before my next appointment, I’m supposed to continue working as outlined. Because my movements are so limited, I haven’t been attending therapy regularly. My therapist and I agreed that, because I have previous experience with this injury, I could handle practicing these simple exercises at home until my training is less restricted. I will see my doctor again on January 26th and visit my therapist on the same day. At that time, I hope to discuss possible causes for this recent setback and learn more about my chances of making a full recovery, as was initially expected. I asked these questions of my therapist in my response to her email, but I don’t think they can be answered at this point.