The Achilles tendon is a strong, fibrous cord that connects the calf muscles to the heel. It’s the largest tendon in the human body, and is imperative to comfortable walking, running and jumping. While the Achilles tendon is very strong, it can tear or rupture during rigorous activity. Additionally, patients who have tendonitis or tendinopathy can experience a degenerated Achilles tendon. Regardless of the reason for your Achilles tendon-related issues, many can be fixed with an outpatient surgery.
For patients who tear or rupture their Achilles tendon due to strenuous activity, usually a strong or sudden force is to blame. Pivoting incorrectly or moving into a burst of high speed the wrong way can tear or rupture the Achilles tendon, causing extreme pain and swelling in the heel area. Patients will also notice that they are unable to bend their foot downward with a torn or ruptured Achilles tendon.
For patients with tendonitis and tendinopathy, stiffness and pain down the Achilles tendon and on the heel are common. Causes for this vary, but increased strenuous activity, overuse and long-term stress degenerates the tendon over time.
An orthopedic surgeon can determine if a patient needs corrective surgery for an Achilles tendon injury. For patients who are healthy and have injured their tendon through rigorous activity, doctors may prescribe pain medication or a temporary cast that limits foot movement to help the tendon heal. For patients who experience tendonitis and chronic Achilles tendon pain, doctors may recommend icing the tendon, resting the foot to promote healing or using a brace to minimize foot movements. Physical therapy is also a way to increase tendon functionality while decreasing long-term pain.
“We always begin with the most conservative treatment, however, surgery is often the best option for an Achilles tendon injury,” says Dr. Francis Glaser, an orthopedic surgeon who specializes in foot and ankle procedures. “If the patient does need to undergo surgery, Fresno Surgical Hospital’s specialized staff ensures the patient is comfortable before and after the procedure, which helps promote optimal outcomes.”
“Our goal at Fresno Surgical Hospital is to ensure that patients receive the best, most applicable care for their Achilles tendon injuries,” says Dr. Glaser. “With specialized staff and a comfortable treatment environment, Fresno Surgical Hospital’s patients can expect optimal results for their Achilles tendon repairs.”
If the orthopedic surgeon does recommend moving forward with surgery, patients should usually expect to be in and out of the hospital on the same day. The outpatient procedure includes numbing agents around the nerves to decrease pain and sensitivity after the surgery.
Patients should expect to wear a splint or cast after the surgery to immobilize the injured foot. The first post-operative appointment occurs 1-2 weeks after surgery. Patients should keep their injured foot elevated to decrease the chance of swelling, and avoid bearing any weight for the first few weeks. Doctors recommend crutches, wheelchairs or knee scooters to help patients get around before the injury is completely healed. Physical therapy will help patients regain full mobility and use of their Achilles tendon. The re-rupture/re-tear rate after surgery is less than two percent.
Fresno Surgical Hospital is an award-winning physician-owned hospital. Learn more at www.FresnoSurgicalHospital.com.