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Melanie Strange was delighted to play in a recreational volleyball league, but an injury ended up sidelining her. Thanks to Coordinated Health Orthopedic surgeon Jason Rudolph, MD.
Though Bethlehem resident Melanie Strange hadn’t played volleyball since high school she thrilled when her coworkers asked her to join them in a league.
In fact, she enjoyed playing volleyball so much that she eventually joined two leagues and it became a big part of her routine. “It was a great way to be social and stay active,” she says.
However, last summer her routine was shaken when she suffered an injury during a game. “I was playing on macadam and I just stepped forward and heard a pop and went down. I initially thought that someone stepped on the back of my foot, but realized that I had hurt my Achilles,” she says.
Strange went to a local ER who told her to consult an orthopedic surgeon. Her family had been to Coordinated Health before so she called and got an appointment with Orthopedic Surgeon Jason Rudolph, MD.
She was so sure that Dr. Rudolph was going to tell her she had a minor injury that she brought sandals to her appointment that she could wear out. However, much to her surprise, Dr. Rudolph told her that she had a ruptured Achilles.
“Diagnosing an Achilles rupture is usually pretty straight forward. On exam you can feel a defect in the tendon. When squeezing the calf, the foot doesn’t move. Also, when the patient is lying on their stomach, the affected ankle seems more flat compared to the normal ankle. Checking strength is not usually helpful, since other muscles can take over,” says Dr. Rudolph.
Once an x-ray confirmed an Achilles rupture, Dr. Rudolph told Strange that she would need surgery sooner rather than later. He was able to schedule her for just two days later.
“I was shocked. I had no idea that I was going to need surgery. I just kept saying, are you sure,” she laughs.
Dr. Rudolph says the surgery to repair an Achilles rupture is done on an outpatient basis at one of Coordinated Health’s own hospitals. He explains that during surgery an incision is made and the tendon is sewn back together. Right after surgery, a boot in placed on the affected foot to keep it pointed down while the tendon heels.
Strange had to be in the boot for six weeks after surgery, which meant she was unable to drive for that time as well. “That was the hardest part, just trying to figure out the logistics of everything while I couldn’t drive,” says Strange.
After the boot came off, Strange began physical therapy for several months. The focus of her therapy was on stretching and flexibility as well as strengthening the tendon and surrounding muscles. She admits that physical therapy was difficult, but it paid off in the end. “There were times that it was difficult, but I knew that it had to be done and now I’m better than ever,” she says.
Dr. Rudolph credits much of Strange’s swift recovery to her work ethic and positive attitude. “She had a great can-do attitude when it came to her recovery. She was willing to work hard and it paid off,” he says.