Tears to the Achilles tendon may occur from a sudden force or due to gradual degeneration over time, but they almost always require surgery. Signs that you may have ruptured your Achilles tendon include:
- Snapping or popping sensation at time of injury
- Weakness in the affected leg
- Pain and swelling
- Difficulty walking
- Inability to bend your foot
What to Expect From Your Achilles Tendon Repair
Diagnosing an Achilles Tendon Tear
To diagnose an Achilles tendon tear, your orthopedic specialist at Motion Orthopaedics will first conduct a physical assessment. In general, an Achilles tendon tear can be accurately diagnosed by a physical evaluation; however, an ultrasound or MRI may be necessary to confirm a diagnosis and the severity of the tear.
As the largest tendon in your body, surgical treatment is usually recommended. However, your physician may not advise surgery only if you have certain underlying medical conditions, like diabetes or neuropathy in your legs.
Potential risks and complications of an Achilles tendon repair include:
- Calf weakness
- Excess bleeding
- Anesthesia complications
- Nerve damage
- Infection at the incision site
- Continued pain in foot and ankle region
During the Procedure
For an Achilles tendon repair, there are several surgical techniques that your surgeon may use depending on the extent of your tear. Certain Achilles tendon repairs may involve one or more incisions to re-anchor the torn tendon back to the heel bone. In severe cases, your orthopedic specialist may have to perform a tendon graft, which is when a piece of one of your healthy tendons in your foot is used to replace all or part of the injured Achilles tendon.
Following your Achilles tendon repair, your recovery will entail:
- Physical therapy: rehabilitative exercises to regain strength and mobility
- Incision care: keeping your incision sites clean to prevent infections
- Pain management: medications prescribed by your orthopedic surgeon to relieve any post-operative pain
- Immobilization: temporarily stabilizing your ankle in a splint to facilitate healing
Following an Achilles tendon repair, you will not be able to put any weight on the affected leg for at least six weeks.