A doctor might recommend surgery if you experience significant injury to your Achilles tendon. But experts differ on which technique is best. Regardless of technique, recovery usually takes 3–6 months.
Your Achilles tendon is the
Some studies have reported Achilles tendon tears at rates of about
Doctors sometimes recommend surgery for treating Achilles tears. The debate remains about when doctors should perform surgery. In general, doctors recommend surgery for moderate to severe injuries.
Read on to learn more about when your doctor may recommend Achilles surgery and the available surgery options.
Your doctor may recommend Achilles surgery if you tear your Achilles tendon. Tendon tears range from minor to severe.
There’s debate over when surgery is the best treatment option, but many doctors recommend surgery for tears larger than
Doctors use many types of surgeries to treat Achilles injuries. Achilles surgery can
- percutaneous repair
- open repair
- mini-open repair
The optimal surgical technique is still
Percutaneous repair is a
Open repair is often effective but links to
Your surgeon may use various other techniques during the surgery, including the following:
- Tendon transfer: A
tendon transferinvolves moving a working tendon in your foot to reinforce your Achilles.
- Tendon graft: A graft is when they rebuild the tendon with tissue from your body, a donor, or with a synthetic material.
- Gastrocnemius recession: The surgeon loosens your calf muscle fibers through a separate incision to reduce tension in your Achilles tendon.
- Achilles debridement: The surgeon removes the injured tissue from your tendon.
The mini-open technique is a minimally invasive option that may
Your surgeon makes a small incision over your tendon, about
Mini-open repair may help reduce the risk of infection, but the overall complication rate
Here’s a general outline of what you can expect during surgery.
- You’ll receive a spinal anesthetic to block the pain from your waist down. You’ll also likely receive a sedative to make you sleepy through the surgery.
- Your surgeon will make an opening or a series of openings around your ankle.
- The surgeon will reconnect the two injured ends of your tendon with stitches. In some cases, your surgeon may remove part of your tendon.
- Your surgeon may also need to repair other structures in your ankle if you have other injuries.
- The surgeon will close the openings with stitches and cover them with bandages to help prevent infection.
- After your procedure, you’ll likely have a splint on your foot to keep you from moving it.
Surgery times can vary, but your procedure may take about
Potential risks of Achilles surgery include:
Infections are the most serious complication of open repair. Infection and wound problems occur in about
Many people go home on the same day as their surgery. During the first 2 weeks, medical staff will likely give you crutches and advise you to elevate your leg as much as possible.
After 2 weeks, they’ll encourage you to start putting weight on your tendon and give you a surgical boot with three wedges to keep your toe pointed down. You’ll likely wear this boot for about 8 weeks. They’ll remove one wedge about every 2 weeks to increase the length of your tendon.
Many people can walk regularly in
Success rates for Achilles tendon surgery are generally higher than
Doctors usually perform surgery 1–2 weeks after your injury to allow swelling to go down.
Before your procedure, you’ll have a presurgical assessment. Your surgeon will give you instructions about when to stop eating and drinking and whether you need to stop taking any medications.
You’ll be unable to drive yourself home after your procedure, so planning a way home in advance is important.
Here are some frequently asked questions people have about Achilles surgery.
How long does it take to recover from Achilles surgery?
Is Achilles surgery painful?
Achilles surgery shouldn’t be painful since you’ll likely be under anesthesia. You may have a moderate to high amount of pain after your procedure for a few days to weeks.
Is it normal to feel stiffness after Achilles surgery?
It’s typical for your ankle to feel stiff while you’re recovering due to reduced movement. This stiffness should improve throughout your rehabilitation.
Doctors often recommend Achilles surgery for tendon tears larger than half the width of your tendon. Doctors can choose from various surgical techniques, and some debate remains over which technique is best.