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HealthInfo Canterbury

Recovery after a ruptured Achilles tendon

Recovering from a ruptured Achilles tendon is a slow process that can take several months. Progress may seem slow, but it's important not to try to rush the process as you may cause more damage.

This table outlines how long you will take to recover, and what you will be able to do at each stage. Your physiotherapist will tell you what exercises to do, when, and for how long. Ask them about anything you're not clear about.

Guide to recovery after a ruptured Achilles tendon

Weeks 0 to 2

  • Your leg will be in a plaster cast or backslab (a half-cast around the back of your leg and ankle).
  • You will not be able to put any weight on your leg or foot.

Weeks 2 to 4

  • You will have a moonboot that holds your foot in a downward position. Wear it all the time, except when exercising, sitting, or bathing.
  • You will gradually work up to putting some weight (no more than half of normal) on your leg and foot.
  • You will start physiotherapy.Your physiotherapist will give you exercises with your foot off the ground, or while you are lying down. They will also give you hip and knee exercises to maintain the strength in your leg. Pain is your guide – if it hurts, stop.
  • Do all these exercises up to five times a day.

Weeks 4 to 6

  • The angle of your foot within the moonboot will change. Wear the moonboot at all times, except for when you are exercising or bathing.
  • Gradually start putting more weight through your leg and foot, up to 100% of normal by the end of week 6.
  • Continue with the same exercises.

Week 6 to 8

  • Your foot will now be in a neutral position in the moonboot.
  • With your boot on, you can put as much weight through your leg and foot as you can bear without discomfort.
  • Take the boot off regularly and do the non-weight-bearing exercises your physiotherapist has given you for your ankle.
  • You can take your boot off at night, but make sure you put it back on before doing any walking.

Week 8+

  • You can start wearing your own footwear, as long as it is supportive. Running shoes are fine, jandals are not!
  • Use a Tubigrip bandage to control any swelling.
  • Use crutches as you need to, but try to wean off them within the next two weeks.
  • Your physiotherapist will give you exercises to help with walking and standing.
  • Your tendon is still very vulnerable – take care when exercising and with everyday activities. If something hurts, stop.

Week 10+

  • Your exercises will now aim to build strength and balance, and increase your range of movement.

Week 16+

  • You can now begin sport-specific retraining, but it may take six months before you can get back to full sporting activity.

Written by Christchurch Hospital Orthopaedics Outpatients Department. Adapted by HealthInfo clinical advisers. March 2017.

Page reference: 337584

Review key: HIAAF-225274