The fibrous tissue that connects your heel to the muscles in your leg is called the achilles tendon. Through overuse or accident your achilles can tear or rupture and may require repair or reconstruction.
Your consultant will perform a full examination to determine the extent of your injury. They may request and ultrasound scan or an MRI. Based on the degree of damage they may recommend conservative treatment including rest, rehabilitation and progressive strengthening.
If your injury is severe or does not respond to conservative treatment your surgeon may recommend surgery.
What happens during achilles repair or reconstruction?
Achilles repair or reconstruction is usually performed under general anaesthetic. Your surgeon will make an incision (cut) in the back of your leg just above your ankle. They will locate the damaged tendon and bring the ends together using stitches. If the damage warrants, your surgeon may need to reinforce the tendon with a graft from another tendon in your body. They will close the wound using stitches or staples and apply a temporary cast.
After your achilles repair or reconstruction
You will probably remain in hospital 2-4 days. You will be given pain relief medication and may need to take blood thinning medication to prevent blood clots.
The morning after your surgery your temporary cast will be changed. Our physiotherapists will visit you to help you get mobile and learn to walk without bearing weight on your operated foot. They will also make sure you can manage stairs. You will be non weight bearing for at least three weeks.
Going home after achilles repair or reconstruction
Before you leave hospital our Physiotherapists will tell you about any restrictions you will need to maintain. You will not be able to drive for up to 2 months after your surgery so please arrange for someone to take you home.
You should elevate your foot as much as possible (including at night) to control swelling. You will need to keep your cast dry.
You will have a followup appointment to change your cast and wound dressings and remove your stitches about 10 - 14 days after your surgery.
You will need to use crutches after your procedure. The length of time you will need to be non weight bearing depends on your own situation. Be sure and discuss any weight bearing restrictions with your surgeon. If you have any concerns regarding using crutches, please discuss these with your surgeon and/or physiotherapist prior to your surgery.
You should also discuss any return to work with your surgeon. If your job requires walking or standing for long periods of time you may need to be off work for several months.
Your surgeon may refer you to physiotherapy to help you gain strength and increase mobility once your cast is removed.
What complications can happen?
Every surgical procedure has a risk of complications. Be sure and discuss any concerns you might have about these risks with your surgeon.
General complications of any operations:
- Infection in a surgical wound
- Blood clots
- Unsightly scarring
Specific complications of achilles repair or reconstruction:
- Tendon ruptures again
- Wound does not heal properly
- Ankle stiffness
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