Irena Spence is a 49-year-old solicitor and marathon runner who suffered a partial Achilles tendon rupture. She had surgery which failed before coming to the London Foot and Ankle Centre where an operation carried out by Mr Mark Davies successfully corrected the problem.
Describe your foot problem
I used to run a lot of marathons and about five years ago, I noticed that my Achilles was very swollen after a run. A lump developed on the right side of my Achilles and it really started to hurt, so I sought help. A saw a physiotherapist and had sports massage, but that didn’t work. Finally, I saw a surgeon who recommended a tendon transfer, wrapping another tendon around my weak Achilles to provide support. I had the operation in November 2008. The problem was that after my operation, there was no aftercare. My foot was in plaster for eight weeks with no physiotherapy. By the time I came out of plaster, my foot was a terrible mess. I had an infection and a blood clot and my scar had become tethered to the Achilles. I couldn’t even put my foot on the floor because I was in such horrendous pain. I wasn’t able to walk up a small hill because I couldn’t flex my foot to toe-off at all. I was feeling pretty desperate and very frustrated when a friend recommended the London Foot and Ankle Centre.
Describe your procedure
There was a lot of scar tissue in the area where I had surgery, which meant that my foot had been permanently swollen. The surgery involved freeing up the scar tissue plus elongation of the contracted Achilles tendon reconstruction from my previous operation. Surgery with Mr Mark Davies took place in October 2009.
How did you feel straight after surgery?
I felt a little sore immediately after surgery, but it was nothing which couldn’t be remedied by a couple of paracetamol. I had been in so much pain before surgery that it seemed pretty mild by comparison.
The first two weeks
For the first two weeks, I had to wear a half length plastercast, going to just below my knees. I had to keep my leg elevated for the whole time and there was no weight bearing whatsoever. But I was comfortable and able to work from home which was important because I run my own business.
Two to four weeks after surgery
At two weeks, the plastercast was removed and replaced with an Aircast Boot. I even slept in the Aircast Boot because I was worried about my foot moving around as I slept. The day after my plastercast came off, I started my physiotherapy. It was all clearly co-ordinated and I knew exactly what to do and what to expect. At first, the physiotherapy was focused on flexing my foot and moving it up and down.
Four to eight weeks after surgery
Five-and-a-half weeks after surgery, I was able to go back to the gym. I spent a lot of time walking on the treadmill. For a long time, I hadn’t been walking evenly because I was in so much pain. I was absolutely stunned at the improvement – even though I was still recovering from surgery, my foot had movement in it.
Two to six months after surgery
Before my surgery at the London Foot and Ankle Centre, the pain was excruciating. I remember driving my children to a football match in Wembley and wanted to punch the windscreen because the pain was so unbearable. It seems incredible that four months after surgery, I am free from pain and have only the most minimal, occasional swelling. I’m perfectly comfortable in normal shoes and flexing my foot as you need to do when driving.
What would your advice be to someone with a similar problem?
I had no reason at all to think that my first operation would not work and it caused a lot of pain, frustration and lost work time. I can highly recommend the London Foot and Ankle Centre, not only for the excellent standard of diagnosis and surgery, but also, importantly for the co-ordinated aftercare which is so important in order to make a full and successful recovery.