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Achilles Tendon Repair Surgery Will Get You Moving Again

The Achilles is a large tendon that connects the calf muscles to the heel bone. It plays a crucial role in providing the strength needed for activities such as walking, running, going up and down stairs, and standing on tiptoes.

One of the most common areas for a tendon tear to occur, these achilles tendon injuries typically occur while engaging in high-impact activities, such as basketball, soccer, or tennis.

Patients typically hear or feel a “popping” sensation in the back of the ankle and experience immediate pain, swelling, and trouble with walking. In some cases, the pain is mild enough that the condition goes undiagnosed for a long time, resulting in further complications. 

Dr. Porter and the team at Progressive Spine and Orthopaedics have helped countless patients heal their internal foot issues, allowing them to enjoy physical activities again. 

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What is Achilles Tendon Repair Surgery?

Achilles tendon repair surgery is a procedure that’s designed to fix a damaged Achilles tendon. The largest tendon in the body, the achilles tendon connects the heel to the calf muscles. It helps you walk, run, and jump. If trauma occurs, the Achilles tendon can tear. This is usually the result of a sudden, strong impact, which can often be caused by changes in leg movement during sports or other intense activities. 

A ruptured Achilles tendon typically causes a great deal of pain and swelling around the heel. Sufferers of a tear are usually not able to bend their heels downward. 

Degeneration can also affect the Achilles tendon. This condition is also referred to as tendinitis or tendinopathy. Patients who develop this typically experience pain and stiffness in the area of the Achilles tendon and the back side of the heel. This condition most often results from overuse or excessive stress on the Achilles tendon. Those with shorter calf muscles are at an increased risk for tendinopathy. 

Regardless of the issue, the surgery is designed to repair the tendon and restore proper function. Achilles tendon repair surgery involves disconnecting the tendon and some of the muscles of the foot and reattaching them using plastic screws. Patients are able to walk again without any pain or hindrances. 

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What are the Benefits of Achilles Tendon Repair Surgery?

  • Restores normal function to the tendon, allowing individuals to regain strength and flexibility in their ankle
  • Alleviates pain that may be associated with the injury
  • Enhance the tendon’s strength and resilience, making it less prone to future tears or ruptures
  • Contributes to better stability and balance, reducing the risk of falls
  • Leads to an improved quality of life with greater mobility  

Who is a candidate for Achilles tendon repair surgery?

Ideal candidates include healthy, active people who want to get back to their regular physical activities, such as jogging, biking, or other sports. That said, less active patients may also be considered candidates for the treatment. In some cases, a non-surgical approach is also an option.

How to prepare for the surgery

Before undergoing the procedure, it is important that patients divulge certain information to our team. This includes all of the medicines that you take, including over-the-counter medications like aspirin. Patients may be instructed to cease the use of certain medications, such as blood thinners, prior to the treatment. Patients will also be told to refrain from smoking, as it can delay the healing process. 

Patients will also likely need imaging tests, such as ultrasound, X-rays, or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). You are expected to refrain from eating and drinking after midnight the day before your surgery. Inform us of any recent developments in your health, such as a fever.

On top of this, patients should start thinking about the recovery process and how to set up their home. As you will not be able to walk for some time, it is a good idea to have your home set up in a way that facilitates comfort, ensuring that you have a relaxing healing process. You will also need to have someone drive you home from the procedure. 

What does the procedure entail?

Patients may be given spinal anesthesia, which temporarily reduces feeling in the lower half of the body. This will ensure that the patient is sedated and relaxed throughout the procedure.

  • Your vital signs will be closely monitored throughout the duration of the surgery.
  • An incision will be made through the skin and muscle of your calf. A tiny camera with a light will then be used to help guide the surgical process. 
  • An incision will be made through the sheath surrounding the tendon. Damaged parts of the tendon will be removed. In the case of a torn tendon, the tear will be repaired. 
  • In some cases, another tendon from the foot is removed and used as a replacement for the Achilles tendon.
  • After all of the necessary repairs have been made, sutures are used to close the layers of skin and muscle around the calf. 
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What is the recovery process like?

When you wake up from the surgery, your ankle will most probably be fitted with a splint. This ensures that it stays stationary and does not move. As an outpatient procedure, patients who undergo Achilles tendon surgery can usually go home on the same day. 

As it is common to experience pain during the first few days of recovery, patients will be prescribed pain medications to keep them feeling comfortable. It is important to keep the leg elevated as much as possible. This leads to a major reduction in swelling and pain. Patients will most likely need to use crutches to get around without putting weight on the affected leg. 

Patients are typically instructed to return to the office about seven to ten days following the procedure, at which time the stitches will be removed and the splint will be replaced with a cast. Patients will be given instructions in regard to when they can start putting weight on their legs. Physical therapy may also be needed to help during the recovery process. 

It is vital that patients follow our instructions about medications, wound care, and exercise. These guidelines will ensure the best outcome possible. 

What are the risks of Achilles tendon repair surgery?

As with any surgical procedure, Achilles tendon repair comes with some risks. Some of these may include:

  • Increased bleeding
  • Damage to nerves
  • Infections
  • Blood clotting 
  • Delayed wound healing 
  • Calf weakness
  • Anesthesia complications 
  • Persistence of pain in the foot or surrounding areas 

These risks tend to vary depending on the patient’s age, the shape of their muscles and tendons, their general health, and the type of surgery carried out. During the consultation, we will go over all of the potential risks with you and discuss ways to minimize them. 

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Why choose Progressive Spine and Orthopaedics?

At Progressive Spine and Orthopaedics, surgical excellence and results are our top priorities. A highly regarded authority in orthopedic surgery, Dr. David Porter is the optimal choice for those seeking Achilles tendon solutions. Patients from all over New Jersey and beyond choose him for his extensive experience, personalized patient care, knowledge of advanced techniques, and comprehensive range of orthopedic services. Dr. Porter's dedication to customized treatments ensures a major enhancement in your overall quality of life. 

Contact our office today to arrange a private consultation and discover more about our Achilles tendon repair procedures.

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