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Chris’ story: Achilles and heel, all healed

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

By: Jeff Ash


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Winter’s dangers lurk everywhere. Some, like the cold and wind, are out in the open. Others hide.

 

Chris Behrens never saw the ice under the snow.

 

Two winters ago, as Behrens walked to the gym to work out, he wiped out on the ice, landing on his back. His right heel smacked the frozen sidewalk. After that, it became tough to get around.

 

“It was difficult to drive long distances. Exercising was difficult. Walking any extended distance was difficult,” says Behrens, who is in his late 60s and lives in Kaukauna.

 

The heel had bothered Behrens even before falling on the ice, but he dealt with it. There came a time, though, that enough was enough.

 

“I wanted my life back. It was painful, and it was getting progressively more painful,” Behrens says.

 

Dr. Brandon M. Scharer, a foot and ankle surgeon with Orthopedics & Sports Medicine BayCare Clinic, diagnosed Behrens with insertional Achilles tendinitis. That causes chronic pain and bone growth at the back of the Achilles tendon, at the back of the shoe. Behrens also had broken part of the heel bone, or the calcaneus. His Achilles tendon had torn off the heel bone over time.

 

“Yeah, we have to do something,” he told Behrens. That meant surgery.

 

In early July 2016, Scharer removed bone fragments from Behrens’ heel, removed damaged tissue from the Achilles tendon and used a plastic anchor to reattach the tendon to the heel.

 

“It was essentially his only alternative,” Scharer says, for an injury that’s “more common than you’d think.”

 

It took Behrens six months to recover and complete physical therapy, but he’s delighted with the results.

 

“I’m at a very good place in my life right now,” says Behrens, who always has been active. “I run a bit on the treadmill. I’m in the gym five to six days a week.”

 

Behrens’ wife, Melian, is a retired nurse. She, too, could see how nicely Chris healed. Now they’re again pursuing the activities they love.

 

“We just had a very nice driving vacation on the Great River Road, and we did some hiking in the various state parks,” he says.

 

“It’s good now.”

 

Dr. Brandon M. Scharer sees patients at the Foot & Ankle Center BayCare Clinic in Green Bay, at Orthopedics & Sports Medicine BayCare Clinic in Green Bay and Marinette and at Aurora Health Center in Kaukauna. Call 877-884-8796 in Green Bay or Kaukauna or 715-732-8200 in Marinette or request an appointment online.

 

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BayCare Clinic, baycare.net, is the largest physician-owned specialty-care clinic in northeastern Wisconsin and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. It is based in Green Bay, Wisconsin. BayCare Clinic offers expertise in more than 20 specialties, with more than 100 physicians serving in 16 area communities. BayCare Clinic is a joint partner in Aurora BayCare Medical Center, a 167-bed, full-service hospital. Follow BayCare Clinic on Facebook and Twitter.