- Age n/a
- Chronicity 18+ Months
I could write volumes about achilles tendinosis. I've had it off and on (bilaterally) for the better part of 18 years. It has been a significant limiter to my training and race participation over the years. I've spent $1,000's in wasted entry fees and canceled travel plans. Looking on the bright side, I've learned to think positively, to persevere, and most importantly not to take this sport too seriously. Anyhow, here's a summary of my experience:
July 4, 1997: pain started in left AT. After 4 months of physical therapy including all the standard stuff: rest, ultrasound, cross friction massage, iontophoresis I could run again at an acceptable level of pain.
1997-2006: fluctuating pain levels in both ATs. These nine years of running/cycling frequency dictated by pain levels. Saved hard/long runs mostly for race day. Tried just about every non-surgical remedy under the sun, multiple times. gazillion doctor visits, more physical therapy, MRI's, eccentric calf raises, pissed a lot of money on useless orthotics. I spent a significant amount of time researching tendinosis and discovered that most orthopedics and podiatrists really don't know what to do. I saw a dozen different doctors over this time period confirming this at least for me. You can confirm this as well: arm yourself with list of questions requiring concrete, detailed responses prior to visiting your doctor and watch them squirm for answers. (One supposedly world-renowned ankle reconstruction orthopedic didn't even attempt to find a solution, looking me straight in the eye instead and said nothing could be done; I should stop running and play golf)
July 2006: By this time, I couldn't run more than 10 feet. Left AT was a mess. After more research, I concluded that topaz microdebridement surgery might work for me. I flew from Fla where I was living at the time to Santa Monica, CA to have the procedure done by a podiatrist who appeared to have some success with procedure. Surgery required general anesthesia. Post surgery, non-weight bearing boot for 2 weeks, followed by weight bearing boot for another 4 weeks. I wasn't able to run for 7 months - long rehab period. However, after 7 months I was cured. No more pain. Unfortunately, soon afterward, my right AT became more of a limiter.
Nov 2009: Went back to Santa Monica for my right AT (now living in CA). Tried PRP. Fail.
Dec 2009: Topaz microdebridement on my right AT. I was a better patient this time so rehab was more like 5 months. However, this time I'd say the success was about 80%. A portion of the painful tendon didn't fully heal but was good enough to run somewhat unimpeded.
~2012: right AT getting more bothersome and hampered running.
~2013: MRI on right AT. Tendinosis confirmed. tried acupuncture, more PT, loads of eccentrics to no avail.
August 2014: pain in right AT (which had been pain free for 8 years) came on strong day after race. Now I have it in both legs again.
October 2014: went back to Santa Monica. Tried PRP twice in both legs over 8 week period. FAIL. In my view, PRP sucks and is a waste of time and $. I knew that before but, against my better judgement, allowed the doc to talk me into it. $1,500 down the tubes.
March 2015: Here's where it gets interesting, at least to me. After more research and internal reflection, I decided to go to the king of achilles tendons. So, I contacted Hakan Alfredson in Sweden (of the Alfredson eccentric protocol fame) and booked an appointment to see him.
March 28, 2015: Flew from CA to Umea, Sweden. Three days later, I was on the table and Prof. Alfredson was performing bilateral AT surgery (ultrasound+Doppler-guided mini-surgical scraping). It was under local anesthesia. I felt no pain. The surgery took about 1 hour and I got up from the table and walked back to my hotel room which was about 200 yrs from his office. By the way, nobody in the U.S. is doing this yet. And, it's been a successful procedures to the many professional athletes that travel from all over the world to see him. I flew home on 4/2.
April 4, 2015: Here it is less than a week after bilateral surgery and I am walking almost normally and with no pain. I can't believe it. The rehab procedure calls for me to begin light running in 5 to 7 weeks, and I am very hopeful that this works. Here's some info on his procedure: