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HealthInfo West Coast-Te Tai Poutini

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, and will have crutches to help you get around.

Weeks 2 to 4

  • You will change to using a moonboot that holds your foot in a downward position. Wear it all the time, except when exercising or bathing.
  • While using the crutches, 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 for your ankle, as well as hip and knee exercises to maintain the strength in your leg. Pain is your guide – if it hurts, stop and contact your physiotherapist for advice.
  • 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.
  • While still using the crutches, gradually start putting more weight through your leg and foot, until you are using it as normal by the end of week 6.
  • Continue with the exercises your physiotherapist gives you.

Week 6 to 8

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

Week 8+

  • You can start wearing the moonboot less and wearing your own footwear more, as long as it is supportive. Running shoes are fine, jandals and gumboots 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, as long as you are walking normally with no limp.
  • Your physiotherapist will give you exercises to help with walking and standing.
  • Your tendon is still very vulnerable, so continue to 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 gentle sport-specific retraining, but it may take six months before you can get back to full sporting activity.

Information provided by the Canterbury DHB. Adapted by the West Coast DHB. Page created October 2017.

Page reference: 434609

Review key: HIAAF-225274