Treating Your Achilles Tendon Tear Part I: Non-surgical Treatments

Achilles tendon tears are one of the more common injuries to the hindfoot. Orthopedic surgeons often treat Achilles tendon injuries. These injuries are typically seen in male ‘weekend warriors’ ages 30-40, but they can happen to anyone in any age group.

If you suffer from an Achilles tendon injury, your orthopedic surgeon will recommend one of the following treatments:

 

Read more about the basics of the Achilles tendon.

 

Can the Achilles tendon repair itself?

Yes, with appropriate treatment. At Southwest Orthopedic Group, we individualize treatment of Achilles tendon tears to each patient. We discuss patients’ long-term goals, set appropriate expectations, and evaluate the risks of complications as we develop a treatment plan for each individual.

 

Non-surgical Achilles tendon treatment

Recently, operative and non-operative treatments have been compared. Non-operative treatment produces good results if the Achilles injury is diagnosed early and treatment is initiated. Early treatment involves being placed into a cast, splint, or a boot with the toes pointed down. Having the toes pointed down allows the tendon edges to get closer together to help healing.

Non-operative treatment requires that you use crutches, a walker, or a wheelchair to remove your bodyweight from the injured leg. You will also need guided physical therapy. Slowly, you will progress from the non-weightbearing treatment to walking in a boot with heel wedges.

 

What’s the advantage of non-surgical treatment?

Non-operative treatment avoids risks of surgery, primarily any risks of wound complications, infection, and nerve injury. Risk of surgical complications can increase if patients have medical problems, such as diabetes or peripheral vascular disease.

 

What’s the disadvantage of non-surgical treatments?

Research shows that non-operative treatment of Achilles tendon tears can heal the injury just as well as surgery when treated early; however, research also shows a slightly higher re-rupture rate and increased weakness with non-operative treatment.

But, if there is a delay in diagnosis of your Achilles tendon tear, non-operative treatment may not be a viable option. In this case, the tendon starts to heal with a gap between the edges.

Your orthopedic surgeon may recommend surgery for your Achilles tendon tear.

 

The American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society (AOFAS) has more information about Achilles tendon tears at FootCareMD.

 

For more questions or to set up an evaluation, contact Dr. Stautberg’s office at 281-977-4870.

Author
Eugene Stautberg, MD

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