Achilles tendon surgery is often the preferred option for treating a torn achilles. If you are an active person, or enjoy your sport then your surgeon usually advises surgery to repair your tendon.
Treatment options for a torn Achilles tendon
Achilles tendon surgery is a popular option for treating a torn achilles tendon. This is true for younger, more active patients. However, more recently non-operative treatment is considered for all patients.
There are two types of Achilles tendon surgery currently available:
Here the surgeon makes a single large incision down the back of the calf allowing access to reattach the tendon. There is a 27% lower risk of repeated rupture. But there is an 11% risk of complications such as infection and adhesions.
Percutaneous Achilles tendon surgery
This involves several small incisions through which the Surgeon reattaches the tendon. This technique has higher re-rupture rates and a higher occurrence of nerve damage. However, there is a lower chance of resulting infection.
After Achilles tendon surgery the post-operative period varies between surgeons. Most favour immobilization for 6-12 weeks.
Casts and walking boots
Usually, a cast or walking boot is provided to support your ankle and prevent movement. Initially the cast keeps the ankle in a plantar flexed position (pointing downwards). This shortens the Achilles tendon, allowing it to heal with the least tension through it.
Gradually your doctor adjusts the cast so your foot returns to a neutral postition. Slowly the tendon lengthens, giving it time to adapt.
However, many Surgeons are now beginning mobilization a lot earlier (1-2 weeks) in order to prevent your tendon from becoming stiff and weak.
Movement decreases swelling and orientates the new tendon fibres as it heals. This results in higher tensile strength and therefore reduced risk of re-injury later on.
Read more on Achilles rupture rehabilitation.
Rehabilitation after Achilles tendon surgery
Exercises begin with simply circling the ankle joint, increasing the size of the circles. Your physio introduces stretching exercises following by resistance band strengthening. Finally, you move to weight-bearing exercises.
Achilles taping reduces strain on the Achilles tendon, protecting it and giving the patient more confidence.