Achilles Tendon Rupture and Repair

The Achilles tendon is the largest and strongest tendon in the body. It links the calf muscles to the heel bone. This muscle/tendon unit produces the majority of force that pushes the foot down during walking or running. Regaining Achilles tendon function after an injury is critical for walking.

Those best suited for surgical repair of an acute or chronic Achilles tendon rupture include healthy, active people who want to return to activities such as jogging, running, biking, etc. Even those who are less active may be candidates for surgical repair. Non-operative treatment may also be an option. The decision to operate should be discussed with your achilles tendon imageorthopedic surgeon.

The surgical repair of an acute or chronic rupture of the Achilles tendon typically occurs in an outpatient setting. Patients are then put to sleep and placed in a position that allows the surgeon access to the ruptured tendon. Repair of an acute rupture often takes somewhere between 30 minutes and one hour. Repair of a chronic rupture can take longer depending on the steps needed to fix the tendon.

After surgery, the patient is placed in a splint or cast from the toes to just below the knee. Typically the patient will not be allowed to walk or put weight on the involved leg. Patients are encouraged to keep the operated leg elevated above heart level to decrease swelling and pain.

From two weeks to six weeks, patients may be allowed to begin weight bearing in a walking boot. Ankle motion is often allowed and encouraged. A cast is sometimes used instead of a boot.

At six weeks patients are usually allowed full weight bearing out of the cast or boot. Patients are usually able to return to full activity by six months. It may be over a year before a patient achieves full recovery.

If you are considering repair of a ruptured Achilles tendon, contact Dr. Wesley Johnson. He can advise you of your options and help you choose the best treatment for your unique case.

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