You might need Achilles tendon surgery if you tore your tendon. Surgery is advised for many cases of a ruptured Achilles tendon. But in some cases, your healthcare provider may advise other treatments first. These may include pain medicine, or a temporary cast to prevent your leg from moving. And your healthcare provider may not advise surgery if you have certain medical conditions. These include diabetes and neuropathy in your legs.
Or you may need Achilles tendon repair surgery if you have tendinopathy. But in most cases, other treatments can be used to treat tendinopathy. These include resting your foot, using ice and pain medicines, and using a brace or other device to stop your foot from moving. Physical therapy can also help. If you still have symptoms after several months, your healthcare provider might advise surgery.
Your own risks may vary according to your age, the shape of your foot and leg muscles and tendons, your general health, and the type of surgery done. Talk to your healthcare provider about any concerns you have. He or she can tell you the risks that most apply to you.
Talk with your healthcare provider how to prepare for your surgery. Tell your healthcare provider about all the medicines you take. This includes over-the-counter medicines such as aspirin. You may need to stop taking some medicines ahead of time, such as blood thinners. If you smoke, you’ll need to stop before your surgery. Smoking can delay healing. Talk with your healthcare provider if you need help to stop smoking.
Before your surgery, you may need imaging tests. These may include ultrasound, X-rays, or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
Do not eat or drink after midnight the night before your surgery. Tell your healthcare provider about any recent changes in your health, such as a fever.
You may need to plan some changes at home to help you recover. This is because you won’t be able to walk on your foot normally for a while. Plan to have someone drive you home from the hospital.
Achilles tendon surgery can be done with several methods. The surgery is done by an orthopedic surgeon and a team of specialized healthcare providers. Ask your healthcare provider about the details of your surgery. The surgery may take a couple of hours. During your surgery:
After either type of surgery, you will likely wear a cast, walking boot, or similar device for 6 to 12 weeks. At first, the cast or boot is positioned to keep the foot pointed downward as the tendon heals. The cast or boot is then adjusted gradually to put the foot in a neutral position (not pointing up or down). Many health professionals recommend starting movement and weight-bearing exercises early, before the cast or boot comes off. Your total recovery time will probably be as long as 6 months.
The risks of Achilles tendon surgery include:
Infection is possible with any surgery, but it may be more common with open surgery than with percutaneous surgery. The small risk of other complications is about the same with either open or percutaneous surgery. And most problems go away over time. These complications include pain, delayed wound healing, nerve damage, and problems with scarring.