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Achilles Tendon Rupture Surgery

Achilles (uh-KILL-eez) tendon rupture is an injury that affects the back of your lower leg. Sometimes called the heel cord, it is the largest tendon in the human body. When the calf muscles contract, the Achilles tendon is tightened, pulling the heel. This allows you to point your foot and stand on tiptoe. It is vital to such activities as walking, running, and jumping. It most commonly occurs in people playing recreational sports.

The Achilles tendon, or tendon calcaneus, is a large ropelike band of fibrous tissue in the back of the ankle that connects the powerful calf muscles to the heel bone (calcaneus). If you overstretch your Achilles tendon, it can tear (rupture). The tendon can rupture completely or just partially.

A complete tear through the tendon, which usually occurs about 2 inches above the heel bone, is called an Achilles tendon rupture.If you have an Achilles tendon rupture, you might feel a pop or snap, followed by an immediate sharp pain in the back of your ankle and lower leg that usually affects your ability to walk properly. Surgery is often the best treatment option to repair an Achilles tendon rupture. For many people, however, nonsurgical treatment works just as well.

Nonsurgical Treatment
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This approach typically involves wearing a cast or walking boot with wedges to elevate your heel; this allows the ends of your torn tendon to heal. This method can be effective, and it avoids the risks, such as infection, associated with surgery. However, the likelihood of re-rupture may be higher with a nonsurgical approach, and recovery can take longer. If re-rupture occurs, surgical repair may be more difficult.

Surgery
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Surgery is a common treatment for a complete rupture of the Achilles tendon. The procedure generally involves making an incision in the back of your lower leg and stitching the torn tendon together. Depending on the condition of the torn tissue, the repair may be reinforced with other tendons. Surgical complications can include infection and nerve damage. Infection rates are reduced in surgeries that employ smaller incisions.

Rehabilitation:

After treatment, whether surgical or nonsurgical, you’ll go through a rehabilitation program involving physical therapy exercises to strengthen your leg muscles and Achilles tendon. Most people return to their former level of activity within four to six months.

Prevention: To reduce your chance of developing Achilles tendon problems, follow these tips:

Stretch and strengthen calf muscles -Stretch your calf to the point at which you feel a noticeable pull, but not pain. Don’t bounce during a stretch.

Vary your exercises -Alternate high-impact sports, such as running, with low-impact sports, such as walking, biking or swimming. Avoid activities that place excessive stress on your Achilles tendons, such as hill-running and jumping activities.
Choose running surfaces carefully – Avoid or limit running on hard or slippery surfaces.

Increase training intensity slowly- Achilles tendon injuries commonly occur after a person abruptly increases his or her training intensity.

Consult with one of our orthopedic surgeons to determine the best treatment option for you. (561) 840-1090