Performed by Wisconsin Ankle Surgeon Ted Gertel
Achilles tendon repair is a surgical procedure to treat a torn or ruptured Achilles tendon. The Achilles tendon or “heel cord,” runs down the back of the lower leg and connects the calf muscle to the heel bone. It is the largest and strongest tendon in the human body as well as the most commonly injured tendon.
The Achilles tendon assists walking by helping to raise the heel off the ground. If you tear the Achilles tendon, then you will be unable to push off the ground when walking or jumping (unable to actively plantar flex the ankle).
The main cause of an Achilles tendon tear or rupture is a sudden or acute overload injury. For example, when you forcefully jump or pivot, you can suddenly overstretch the tendon and cause a tear. Sudden accelerations of running are another common cause of Achilles tendon tear.
An injury to the tendon can also result from falling or tripping. Most commonly, middle-aged people participating in sports tear the Achilles tendon. Less commonly, medications such as steroids or certain antibiotics, may weaken the tendon and contribute to Achilles tendon injury or rupture.
Ankle Doctor Helps Patients Recover from Common Injuries in Greater Milwaukee
Common injuries of the Achilles tendon include: Achilles tendinitis (acute inflammation typically from repetitive stress), Achilles tendinosis (tendon degenerates from wear and tear over time), and partial or complete tear of the Achilles tendon. Once torn, the Achilles tendon will not heal without appropriate treatment. A detailed history, clinical examination, x-rays, and MRI scan are used to make an accurate diagnosis.
An open repair of the Achilles tendon is commonly done (repair performed with direct visualization through an incision). The repair is done using sutures and small surgical instruments. Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) injection is also frequently used by Dr. Gertel as part of his surgical tendon repair to help stimulate tissue healing.
Your leg will be placed in a splint after surgery is completed and you will use 2 crutches to prevent bearing weight on the surgical side. Surgery is done under general anesthesia and as an outpatient procedure (you are able to go home the same day).
There are always risks and benefits of surgery, and there are never any 100% guarantees regarding the outcome of surgery. Dr. Gertel’s goal is to minimize the risks and help guide you to the best path of recovery. Short leg fiberglass casting will be done for approximately 4-5 weeks after surgery. Then a walking boot is used. Physical therapy will begin at approximately 6 weeks after surgery. Recovery time after surgery may take up to 4-6 months.