The Achilles tendon is a ropelike band of tissue behind the ankle that connects the calf muscle to the heel bone. The tendon allows for movements like pointing the toe and is vital to performing activities like walking, running, and jumping.
A rupture of the Achilles tendon is a debilitating injury that causes pain and weakness in the leg. The treatment of choice for a torn Achilles tendon is surgery to reattach the tendon.
Reasons for treatment
Following the rupture of an Achilles tendon, surgery is usually necessary. During Achilles tendon surgery, the ends of the torn tendon are reattached in order to strengthen the tendon. This is the only way to accurately repair the tendon ends and set the correct tension between the muscle and the tendon.
In comparison to other treatment options, including a cast, splint, or brace, Achilles tendon surgery provides the best chance of preventing another rupture of the tendon. It also allows a faster return to normal activities and results in a higher functioning of the tendon with less damage to the muscle.
How Achilles surgery is performed
Achilles surgery is the treatment of choice for athletes and anyone with a high level of physical activity. The goal of the surgery is to reattach the torn Achilles tendon to its normal position. The procedure requires a small incision in the back of the leg near the ankle. The surgeon identifies the torn ends of the tendon and stitches them back together to repair the tendon.
Most surgeons will wait a week to perform surgery after the rupture of the tendon to allow for a reduction in swelling. Following surgery, it is necessary to wear a walking boot or cast for approximately six to eight weeks. Patients will need to undergo physical therapy to strengthen leg muscles and the repaired tendon.
If you feel a sudden pop or snap in your heel followed by pain and weakness, you may have torn your Achilles tendon. Contact a physician immediately to prevent further injury.