Is Achilles Tendinitis Surgery Necessary?

The Achilles tendon is the largest tendon that connects the heel bone to the calf muscle. Achilles tendinitis occurs when the tendon becomes inflamed due to an injury or overuse. Achilles tendinitis is initially treated conservatively. Surgery may be required in more severe cases, especially if the tendon is ruptured.

Solutions to heal

Initial treatment for tendinitis is conservative options such as rest, ice, compression, elevation, and pain medications. Physical therapy, shockwave therapy, and proper footwear may also aid in reducing heel pain. If conservative treatments do not work after 6 months, the doctor may suggest surgery based on the type of injury and pain level.

The tendinitis surgery

The repair of the tendon is carried out if the tendon is severely damaged or no conservative treatment has helped. The surgery involves creating an incision at the back of the calf and fixing the tendon. The doctor will repair the damaged tendon with stitches for a ruptured tendon. For a degenerated tendon, the damaged part is removed, may be replaced, and sutured.

Potential risks

Every surgery comes with possible complications but not every patient experiences the risks. Infection, bleeding, nerve damage, continuous pain, and blood clot are unlikely but can occur. Complications from general anesthesia are also possible. The healthcare provider should be contacted immediately if the patient experiences any unexpected symptoms after the repair.

Recuperating period

The surgery takes 30 minutes to 1 hour to complete, and the patient is usually discharged on the same day. The recovery time after surgery varies for each person, depending on the extent of the repair. After 2 weeks, the doctor will remove the cast and sutures, examine the wound, and provide a walking boot. In 4 weeks, the boot will be moved gradually, and strengthening rehabilitation exercises will start. After 6-8 weeks, the boot may come off, and more exercises, such as prolonged standing, may begin. After 4-6 months, normal activities are resumed, but full recovery takes about a year.

Are orthotics necessary?

Achilles orthotics are recommended by the healthcare provider regardless of the type of treatment. The orthotics are used during the recovery period. This device helps support the heel without using the tendon. Proper use can speed up overall recovery time.

Get back on your feet

Although patients may be tempted to return to regular activity right away, taking things slow is advised. By following the doctor’s orders and completing recommended rehabilitation exercises, the tendon can heal correctly. Achilles tendinitis surgery is no minor procedure, but most patients can return to normal activity levels in a few months.