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Achilles Tendon Repair

Orange County's Expert Foot & Ankle Surgeons

What is the Achilles Tendon?

The Achilles tendon is the largest and strongest tendon in the body. Your Achilles tendon helps you point your foot downward, rise on your toes and push off your foot as you walk. You rely on it every time you walk and move your foot. These strong tendons are fibrous cords found in the lower leg and connect the calf muscles to the heel bone (calcaneus) and are necessary to jump, run and pivot. As the tendon moves towards the heel, the fibers rotate, giving it greater mechanical resistance, but also creating an area with poor blood supply which makes the Achilles more prone to tearing in this area.

Causes of Achilles Tendon Tears or Ruptures

An Achilles tendon tear or rupture occurs when the tendon that connects the heel bone to the calf muscles tears and the fibers separate. Pain from an Achilles tendon tear or rupture is intense, especially from a severe injury from a sudden strong force. Many athletes suffer Achilles tendon tears or ruptures from a sudden increase in the stress on your Achilles tendon.

Examples of activities that may cause an Achilles tendon tear or rupture include:

  • Falling from a height
  • Forceful jumping with an extended knee
  • Using the foot to break a fall
  • Stepping into a hole
  • Increasing intensity of sports participation, especially those involving jumping

An Achilles tendon may also be injured from reduced blood supply, causing it to degenerate from tendonitis/tendinopathy. You may notice your Achilles tendon is painful and stiff on the back of your heel from overuse and repeated stress, particularly if you have recently become more physically active.

Symptoms of an Achilles Tear or Rupture

If your Achilles tendon tears or ruptures, you might hear a pop, followed by an immediate sharp pain in the back of your ankle and lower leg that is likely to cause pain and affect your ability to walk properly.

Most people who suffer from an Achilles tendon tear or rupture experience the following symptoms:

  • Feeling as if you’ve been kicked in the calf or heel
  • Pain, possibly severe, and swelling near the heel
  • Weakness when “pushing off” the injured leg when walking
  • Inability to stand on the toes (tip-toe) of the injured leg
  • A pop or snap when the tendon tears

How Is the Achilles Tendon Repaired?

Treatment for an Achilles tendon injury depends on your age, activity level, and severity of the injury. Conservative treatments for an Achilles tendon tear or rupture include rest, ice, over-the-counter painkillers, physical therapy, immobilizing the foot and ankle by wearing a cast or boot and activity restriction. If conservative treatment doesn’t repair the Achilles tear your foot surgeon may recommend Achilles tendon repair surgery.

Achilles Tendon Repair Surgery

Achilles tendon repair surgery is recommended for those patients who are young to middle-aged and active. During surgery, an incision is made at the back of the calf. Then, your foot surgeon will either stitch the ruptured tendon back together or remove the damaged part of the tendon and proceed to repair it with stitches. The entire Achilles tendon may need to be replaced by taking a tendon from another place in the foot. Some patients undergo minimally invasive Achilles tendon repair surgery, which involves several small incisions to visualize the treatment area instead of one large incision. However, minimally invasive surgery is not right for every patient, depending on the condition of the tendon and where the rupture is located.

Potential complications of Achilles tendon repair include:

  • Excessive bleeding
  • Nerve damage
  • Infection
  • Blood clots
  • Non-healing incision wounds
  • Calf weakness
  • Continued pain in your foot and ankle

Trust the Foot & Ankle Surgeons at Newport Orthopedic Institute

Our board-certified, fellowship-trained Orange County foot & ankle surgeons are skilled at treating Achilles tendon tears and ruptures. You will receive a custom treatment plan to help you get back to the activities you love.

Do you have a torn Achilles tendon?
Call Newport Orthopedic Institute at
(949) 722-7038 to make an appointment.

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