My Four-Year-Old Had Tendon Surgery
By Kelly Jo Stidham
Kelly Jo, Blake and Kevin Stidham
In 2010, when my son Blake was four, it started getting harder to put on his braces (DAFOs). As I would try, his right leg was so tight that it would scissor over the top of his left leg. It was so painful to bend his legs just to put on his pants. It was so painful to do his daily stretching.
Blake and I both felt the pain – he in his legs and me in my heart. His physical therapist kept telling me nothing was wrong, but I knew better.
I called his orthopedic specialist. An exam and a few x-rays later we were told that Blake needed surgery. He was growing so fast and his spasticity was so great that his leg bone was pulling out of his hip socket. The doctor said Blake needed to have his tendon lengthened before any more damage occurred.
The thought of having my sweet little guy undergo surgery killed me, but I knew it was something he needed. The surgery took about 2-and-a-half hours. The doctor made three incisions on each leg: at the very top of his leg near his groin, in the back of his thigh, and on his calf. He then cut a Z shape in each tendon, which loosened the tendon and allowed Blake’s bones to grow freely.
After surgery, Blake was in casts from his toes to his knees and used knee immobilizers and a wedge. Physical therapy started the day after surgery and I had to continue the therapy three times a week for the next month. After that, the casts came, off but we had to keep using the immobilizers and wedge so that the tendons could heal properly.
It was amazing after the casts came off to see how loose Blake’s legs were. Stretching became easier and pain free. His assisted walking improved remarkably. He didn’t scissor anymore, and his steps were taken with a purpose. He was able to walk longer. His shoes even fit better.
The surgery has given Blake such relief from the severe spasticity he suffered from. His body has reacted well and he has grown tall. He’s much more confident about walking. We are looking forward to him being able to do it on his own.
My advice to parents? Follow your first instincts: if something doesn’t seem right it probably isn’t. Find a doctor you trust. Establish a good relationship with your doctor. Be prepared for your appointment, and write down all questions and concerns. Don’t let anyone tell you your child has to live in pain.
There’s a good article on Leg Pain Treatments for Children with Cerebral Palsy on the CP Family Network website. CP Families also has a good Facebook page where you can share information and hope.