Information for patients
This leaflet can be made available in other formats including large print, CD and Braille and in languages other than English, upon request.
What is the Achilles tendon?
The Achilles tendon is a tough band of connective tissue which connects the calf muscles to the heel bone. The two main calf muscles are gastrocnemius and soleus.
These unite at the lower end of the calf to form the Achilles tendon. This inserts into the calcaneus (heel bone).
When the calf muscles contract to point your foot down, they pull on the Achilles tendon which then pulls on the heel. This action allows us to go up onto our toes while walking, running and jumping.
What is an Achilles tendon rupture?
A rupture is a complete tear of the tendon. In a rupture connection between the calf muscles and the heel bone is lost.
Most ruptures happen without warning and are most common between the ages of 25 and 45. In most cases the tendon rupture occurs 2 to 6 centimeters above where the tendon inserts into the heel bone.
What is a VACOped boot?
The VACOped boot is a specialist ankle boot designed especially for this injury. It controls the range of movement at your ankle, allowing your Achilles tendon to heal in the correct position by holding both ends of the tendon together.
Why have I been fitted with this boot?
When the Achilles tendon ruptures, the body produces swelling.
This then makes a glue type substance which helps to stick your Achilles tendon back together. In order for this to be effective it is important that both ends of the ton tendon are held together as soon as possible. This is done by a cast and then a VACOped boot.
Can I walk in the boot?
Once you have been fitted with the VACOped boot, you are able to walk but you may need to use walking aids to help with your balance during the early stages.
Can I drive in the boot?
Do not drive while wearing the boot.
Your motor insurance may not be valid while you are being treated within your VACOped boot.
Why have I been given blood thinners?
An Achilles tendon rupture can cause a blood clot in the leg or lung, which is a medical emergency.
You will have been given advice about treatment to thin your blood and reduce the risk, this is often a series of injections to be taken for the first 6 weeks after your injury.
This treatment is important.
Will I be given Physiotherapy?
You will be given an appointment with physiotherapy which will take place around 4 weeks after your foot was placed into a cast.
While wearing the VACOped boot you will need to attend physiotherapy in person every 2 weeks.
Most people will come out of the boot 10 weeks after the injury. At this point you will be guided by your physiotherapist on what activities/exercises are safe to do to achieve your individual goals.
The level of activity that you want to return to will determine how long you will need to attend your physiotherapy sessions.
Recovery and Treatment Timeline
Up to 4 weeks
Do not remove your boot and avoid getting your boot wet.
Contact the physiotherapy team if you have any concerns or issues with your boot or leg.
Your boot position will be altered in physiotherapy, your skin and tendon healing will be checked.
Do not remove or make any adjustments to your boot yourself.
After your 6 week physiotherapy appointment, you may remove the boot to wash your skin and change the liner.
Keep your toes pointed out of the boot at all times. Your physiotherapist will show you how to do this.
Your physiotherapist will adjust your boot so your foot is flat to the floor with a thin sole.
The boot can now come off overnight but you should not walk without the boot on.
At this appointment your boot will be removed and you will receive a heel raise to wear. It is important you bring a pair of shoes to this appointment.
It also may be a good idea to bring your crutches as you may find walking difficult initially.
You will receive physiotherapy. It is important you follow the guidance from your physiotherapist.
Your treatment plan will be an individual plan depending on what your goals are.
Frequently Asked Questions
How much walking can I do?
There is no set restriction on walking distance when in the VACOped. You should watch out for any swelling and make sure the boot is comfortable.
Once out of the VACOped you are advised not to take any long walks, unless you need to for day to day tasks during the first 2 to 4 weeks.
When I come out of the boot can I walk without shoes on?
Yes, although the heel wedges provide will need to be used in footwear.
They will make your change out of the boot more comfortable.
When can I drive?
You should be able to drive from 12 weeks, as long as you are able to safely do an emergency stop.
When can I return to work?
This will depend on what your job involves.
Return to work for desk based jobs is usually after 12 weeks, and manual jobs can be 16+ weeks.
Can I travel on an aeroplane?
You are advised against travelling by aeroplane while in the boot due to the increased risk of a blood clot.
When can I start running?
You can usually start jogging after 4 months.
When can I start swimming?
You can usually start swimming after 4 months.
Can I cycle outdoors?
You can usually start cycling outdoors after 4 months.
Your physiotherapist can discuss how best to manage this.
If you need further advice, or have any problems, please contact the appropriate number below:
University Hospital of North Tees
Telephone: 01642 624492,
Monday – Friday 8.30am – 4.10pm, Saturday 9am – 11am.
If you have any worries or concerns outside of these hours you should contact:
Urgent Care Centre
Telephone: 01642 382702
Further Information is available from:
Oped UK Ltd
Unit 5, Avro Business Centre, Avro Way, Bowerhill, Melksham, SN12 6TP.
Telephone: 01380 722177
Monday – Thursday 9am – 4.30pm
Friday 9am – 4pm
Or via the website at www.foot.oped-uk.com/vacoped
Comments, concerns, compliments or complaints
Patient Experience Team (PET)
We are continually trying to improve the services we provide. We want to know what we’re doing well or if there’s anything which we can improve, that’s why the Patient Experience Team (PET) is here to help. Our Patient Experience Team is here to try to resolve your concerns as quickly as possible. The office is based on the ground floor at the University Hospital of North Tees if you wish to discuss concerns in person. If you would like to contact or request a copy of our PET leaflet, please contact:
Telephone: 01642 624719
Freephone: 0800 092 0084
Opening hours: Monday to Friday, 9:30am to 4:00pm
Email: [email protected]
Out of hours
Out of hours if you wish to speak to a senior member of Trust staff, please contact the hospital switchboard who will bleep the appropriate person.
Telephone: 01642 617617
Data protection and use of patient information
The Trust has developed Data Protection policies in accordance with Data Protection Legislation (UK General Data Protection Regulations and Data Protection Act 2018) and the Freedom of Information Act 2000. All of our staff respect these policies and confidentiality is adhered to at all times. If you require further information on how we process your information please see our Privacy Notices.
Telephone: 01642 383551
Email: [email protected]Privacy Notices
This leaflet has been produced in partnership with patients and carers. All patient leaflets are regularly reviewed, and any suggestions you have as to how it may be improved are extremely valuable. Please write to the Clinical Governance team, North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust, University Hospital of North Tees, TS19 8PE or:
Email: [email protected]
Leaflet reference: PIL1454
Date for Review: October 2026