Repairing the Achilles Tendon
What is the Achilles Tendon?
The Achilles tendon is a strong, fibrous band connecting the calf muscle to the heel. It is crucial when it comes to walking, running, or jumping because it is responsible for pulling upon the heel when we flex our calf muscle.
However, the Achilles can also be prone to injury because of the high amount of tension that is placed upon the tendon.
How can I tell if I've ruptured my Achilles tendon?
Rupturing your Achilles is not a subtle injury. In fact, it's quite dramatic in nature and easy to identify. You will most likely know if you have ruptured your Achilles tendon.
Many people report actually hearing the snap, and it may feel as though you've been violently kicked in the calf.
Your calf may swell, and you may not be able to rise on your toes.
You will feel some pain in the affected area
What Happens after a Torn Achilles Tendon?
The bad news is that you've ruptured your Achilles. Here's the good news. A new minimally invasive technique to repair Achilles ruptures is now available.
A New Procedure to Repair the Achilles
The new procedure has been shown to have equivalent outcomes, with less risk of the wound or infection problems that sometimes occur with older techniques.
Here's how it works:
1. The minimally invasive (or limited open approach) to repairing the tendon requires a small incision, about one inch, on the back of the leg overlying the rupture that is just large enough to put the tendon ends back together and repair it with strong sutures in the tendon.
2. The patient is placed in a splint for about 10 days
3. Then, we replace the splint with a removable boot so they can start walking on it and moving the ankle.
Note: we are able to repair most Achilles ruptures with this new and improved technique, but a minority of ruptures are not amenable to this technique and are better repaired with other techniques.
How does this new method of Repairing the achilles differ from the old
The older method of treating Achilles ruptures was to either place the patient’s leg in a cast to immobilize the ruptured tendon, or to repair the tendon using a large incision on the back of the leg. Unfortunately, the cast does not allow motion at the ankle, which can lead to stiffness.
We are looking for patients to get their range of motion back as soon as possible, and that's why we think this new procedure is the way to go.
To find out more, visit Dr. Elton at the Vail/Summit Orthopaedics website (www.vsortho.com)