Click above image for video that summarises the below text
Achilles tendon repair is a surgical procedure performed to treat a damaged or ruptured Achilles tendon, which is the large tendon located at the back of your ankle that connects your calf muscles to your heel bone. This procedure aims to restore the function and strength of the Achilles tendon, allowing you to regain normal mobility and activity levels.
Here is some general patient information about Achilles tendon repair:
Indications for Achilles Tendon Repair: Achilles tendon repair is typically recommended for individuals who have suffered a partial or complete tear of the Achilles tendon but had a delay in their presentation. It is also discussed with performance athletes or those that require ultimate push off strength as a high importance for their career. The vast majority of achilles tendon ruptures if treatment is sort in a timely manner can be managed without surgery using the ‘Functional Rehabilitation program’. Common causes of Achilles tendon injuries include sudden forceful movements, overuse, and traumatic injuries.
Functional Rehabilitation Program: The injured leg is immobilised in an ½ cast with the toes pointing in a ballet dancer position. 2 weeks is quite common. A boot is then applied either with wedges under the heel or a locked range of motion that is adjusted every couple of weeks or so. The key and modern technique that has the benefit is encouraging of weightbearing once in the boot.
Surgical Procedure: The surgery involves making an incision over the affected area to access the damaged tendon. The surgeon then sutures the torn ends of the tendon back together, possibly using specialized techniques or anchors to reinforce the repair. In some cases, a graft may be used to strengthen the repair. The incision is then closed with sutures or staples.
Anesthesia: Achilles tendon repair is usually performed under general anesthesia, which means you will be asleep during the procedure. Sometimes, local anesthesia or regional anesthesia (numbing only the lower part of your body) may also be used.
Recovery and Rehabilitation: After the surgery, you will likely wear a cast, walking boot, or brace to immobilize the ankle and protect the repaired tendon. The initial recovery period typically involves non-weight-bearing or limited weight-bearing for a few weeks. Physical therapy and rehabilitation exercises will be an essential part of your recovery to regain strength, flexibility, and mobility in your ankle. The rehabilitation process can take several months, and your progress will be closely monitored by your healthcare team.
Risks and Complications: Like any surgical procedure, Achilles tendon repair carries certain risks, including infection, blood clots, nerve damage, and complications related to anaesthesia. There is also a risk of re-rupture or the development of scar tissue. It's important to follow your surgeon's post-operative instructions carefully to minimize these risks.
Blood clots / Thrombosis deserves a special mention as you may well be prescribed a blood thinning injection or tablet whilst you are in cast and even for a period in the bood. Advice also includes drinking plenty of water, Mobilising your limbs and toes regularly and watching for symptoms. A blood clot in the leg can feel like a sports cramp that does not quickly subside and if you get symptoms you should seek urgent medical attention. A blood clot / Thrombosis in the leg can affect the function and comfort of the leg but if it were to move to your lungs (A pulmonary Embolism) it can be very serious so any chest pain or shortness of breath should be reported to medical attention urgently.
Post-Operative Care: Your healthcare provider will give you specific guidelines for wound care, medication, weight-bearing restrictions, and rehabilitation exercises. It's crucial to adhere to these instructions to ensure proper healing and a successful recovery.
Expected Outcome: With appropriate treatment, most individuals can expect to regain good function and strength in the repaired or un-repaired Achilles tendon. However, the timeline for full recovery can vary from person to person, and it may take several months before you can return to your regular activities and sports.
Remember that this information is meant to provide a general overview of Achilles tendon repair. If you or someone you know is considering this procedure, it's important to consult with a qualified healthcare professional who can provide personalized advice and recommendations based on your specific situation.