Where is the Achilles tendon?
The Achilles tendon is actually the largest tendon in your body found at the back of your lower leg, just above your heel. It connects your calf muscle to your heel bone and is an instrumental tendon that allows you to walk, run and jump. You pretty much rely on this part of your body every time you move your foot.
How can the Achilles tendon become injured?
Even though the Achilles tendon is specifically designed to be able to hold up against a lot of stress and pressure, it can only take so much. Think of the tendon as a cord made of many fibers. An injury to the Achilles tendon often involves a complete or partial rupture where the tendon fibers are torn and separated.
Foot specialist, Dr. Danciger, sees injuries to the Achilles tendon more commonly in patients 30 to 50 years of age. This type of injury typically occurs due to a sudden increase of stress on the tendon. Being heavily involved in sports or beginning a new training program that is stressful on your feet and legs can put your Achilles tendon at risk for injury. Falling and landing from a high place or stepping in a hole can also cause a rupture as well.
If you sustain an acute Achilles tendon injury, you will most likely feel and hear a pop or snap at the back of your ankle. Pain and swelling is usually immediate and walking or standing on the foot will be impaired.
When is Achilles surgery necessary? What is involved?
Many conservative treatment options work well in healing an Achilles tendon rupture. Surgery is often encouraged though if the tendon rupture is severe. If you are young and very active, surgery is often the most effective treatment option. The procedure will involve making one larger incision or several small ones at the back of your leg. Dr. Danciger will suture together the two ends of the tendon that have been torn. The goal is to bringing length and tension back to the Achilles tendon.
The surgery can be performed on an outpatient basis. It will be necessary after surgery for your leg to be mobilized for 6 to 12 weeks. Dr. Danciger will provide you with a splint, cast or walking boot to keep your foot in the correct position to heal properly. After significant healing has taken place, it will be encouraged that you do some physical therapy to strengthen the injured tendon even further.
What is the success rate for Achilles tendon surgery?
More than 80% of patients who have Achilles tendon surgery are able to fully resume all of their daily activities, including sports and exercise. The percentage of patients who experience a re-rupture of the tendon is very low and advances in technology have made nerve damage during surgery much less likely. Patients who have had Achilles tendon surgery typically experience full rehabilitation in four to six months.
The true success of this type of surgery depends on several factors. The severity of the damage, how soon the surgery is done after the injury, how quickly rehabilitation is started and how well you follow the program can all affect the success of the surgery.
If you have sustained an injury to your Achilles tendon, do not wait to seek treatment. The health of your foot and leg long-term is at stake. Also, if you have had an injury or previous surgery that is not healing well, Dr. Danciger can diagnose what is going on and get you on a treatment or physical therapy plan tailored to your needs. Contact us today at our Palm Desert, CA office. Make an appointment by calling us at (760) 568-0108 or directly from our homepage.