Recovering from Achilles Tendonitis is not a piece of cake. Achilles is one of the largest tendons in the body that is approx. 6 inches long and 5 mm thick. Once the tendon is compromised, given its sheer size, it is a lengthy process to heal it.
Furthermore, the seriousness of the damage is a big factor here. If there is a partial tear in the tendon, it will heal itself in a period of six weeks or so. If there is a complete tear, it will take a few months to up to a year to heal completely.
In this guide, I will explain different methods of treating achilles tendonitis, how long they take, and what you can do to speed the recovery up. Here you are:
Let’s Learn How Long Achilles Tendonitis Take to Heal and How You Can Speed It Up
How Long Does Achilles Tendonitis Take to Heal?
The length of the recovery period depends entirely on the severity of the injury. So, let your health care practitioner diagnose your condition well. He may ask you some questions about your symptoms or do an imaging test such as an X-ray.
Depending on the diagnosis, your health care practitioner will decide if you need surgery or not. For a partial tear, most patients will not need surgery. In case of a complete tear, unfortunately, surgery is the only option.
How Long Does Achilles Tendonitis Take to Heal Without Surgery
With non-surgical options, it may take six weeks to a few months for your achilles tendonitis to heal completely.
Your doctor will recommend you complete rest, some simple stretches, and the help of a physiotherapist at home. He may also prescribe you oral ibuprofen to help with pain and inflammation.
To immobilize the injured tendon and support your leg while walking, you may have to wear a leg brace as well. Though, you will get rid of the leg brace much before the complete recovery.
How Long Does Achilles Tendonitis Take to Heal With Surgery
Surgery is practiced in the case of a complete achilles tendon rupture. This is the most severe form of the injury and recovering from it will take three months to up to a year.
A surgery takes only an hour or so to complete and you may go home the same day but with leg braces on. You may return to activity in a three months period but to low-impact ones only. In six months to a year, you will be able to restore your normal lifestyle.
Below is a general timeline for what happens after achilles tendonitis surgery. However, the suggestions are not typical. The progress depends on your age and fitness level.
- First Day: You will get the surgery done and be released from the hospital with leg braces, prescriptions, and instructions.
- 2 Weeks: You will need to visit the hospital again to get the stitches removed and check your progress. This is the time that you may get rid of the leg braces but you are still not allowed to put weight on your leg.
- 4 Weeks: You will need the help of a physiotherapist here. The wound will be significantly healed and your therapists will show you some easy exercise to ease you back into activity. Still, you will not be allowed to put weight on your leg.
- 6 Weeks: You will not need regular help from a physiotherapist at this point. You will also be able to stand on your injured leg for a few seconds in a stretch. Your therapist will also take you beyond the easy exercise to low-impact activities such as swimming or cycling.
- 3 Months: This point is quite a milestone in your recovery after surgery. You will be able to stand and walk on your leg without feeling any pain. You will slowly learn how to walk correctly on your leg without the help of a walker or braces.
- 3-6 Months: After the three months mark, you will gradually get back to your day-to-day activities and high-impact exercises. I would recommend you take it slowly as it may take you up to a year to totally recover from achilles tendonitis.
How Can You Speed Up The Recovery From Achilles Tendonitis?
Luckily, you do not have to lay on the bed waiting for a full recovery. There are a few steps that you can take to reduce the time it will take to recover from achilles tendonitis. What are those steps? Glad you asked. Here you are:
- Stretch your achilles tendon gently for 20-30 seconds at a time and 3-4 times a day.
- Use ice packs around your heels for 10-15 minutes at a time every couple of hours.
- If leg braces are not needed, you may wrap a tight athletic band around the heels to support the tendon.
- While laying on the bed, try raising your leg up in the air and keeping it that way for a few seconds in a stretch. It will help with pain and swelling. You may also use support to keep your leg raised.
- Besides strengthening the tendon, perform some exercises to strengthen your calf muscles as well. The stronger the calf muscles, the lesser strain will be put on the tendon.
- Once you are back on your leg, use the right shoes for achilles tendonitis. The shoes will cushion and support your heels the right amount.
By now you know well how long achilles tendonitis takes to heal and how you can speed it up. The more closely you follow the suggestions given in this guide, the faster your recovery will be.
Let your doctor diagnose the intensity of injury, follow the recommended method of treatment, and stick to low-intensity activities only.
However, it is not all gloomy here. The recovery period does not mean you will have to forgo activity entirely. You can still do some low-intensity activities such as cycling or swimming without impairing your recovery. Hope that helps.