Achilles Tendon Injuries

Achilles Tendon Injuries

Understanding Achilles tendon injuries

To help patients understand Achilles tendon injuries, our Cypress orthopedist thinks it’s important to learn more about the tendon. The Achilles tendon attaches the calf muscles, consisting of the gastrocnemius and soleus, to the heel bone, called the calcaneus. It is the largest tendon in the body, and it may become injured or inflamed.

Achilles tendonitis is one type of Achilles tendon injury

One of the most common Achilles tendon injuries that our Cypress orthopedist sees is Achilles tendonitis. This is inflammation of the Achilles tendon, and it can occur for a number of reasons, including a change in activity, shoe-wear or trauma. Inflammation of the Achilles tendon causes tightness of the calf muscle, which propagates the condition.

Several conservative measures are often employed to resolve Achilles tendonitis, including stretching and proper shoe-wear. Injections are not recommended for Achilles tendonitis because they greatly increase the risk of an Achilles tendon rupture.

Should the initial treatment fail to resolve Achilles tendonitis, immobilization in a cast or a boot may be considered. Surgery is a last resort and is typically reserved for the most-severe cases, usually when a very large bone spur is present on the back of the heel. Even when a large bone spur is present, conservative treatment is often very successful at resolving the symptoms.

Achilles tendon rupture is one of the Achilles tendon injuries that may require surgery

Any activity that involves quickly pushing off with the foot can potentially cause rupture of the Achilles tendon. Basketball, tennis and soccer are some of the sports in which Achilles tendon ruptures frequently occur. People often describe the pain of an Achilles tendon rupture as feeling as though they have been kicked in the back of the heel. Push-off strength is also lost with an Achilles tendon rupture, as it severs the connection between the calf muscle and the foot.

There are two basic treatment options for an Achilles tendon rupture. For ruptures in which the two ends of the tendon remain close to each other, our Cypress orthopedist may consider conservative treatment in a series of casts. However, the risk of re-rupture approaches 10% for Achilles tendon ruptures treated non-operatively, so this option is often reserved for less active patients.

For Achilles tendon ruptures in which there is a significant gap between the tendon ends, as well as for more active patients, surgery is strongly encouraged. Surgery provides a stronger repair for the tendon and reduces the re-rupture risk to less than 1%. While wound healing complications may occur with surgery, our Cypress orthopedist has a very low rate of wound issues compared to what is reported in the medical literature.

Whether Achilles tendon ruptures are treated surgically or conservatively, recovery is very similar and involves immobilization in a cast or a boot for approximately 10 weeks.

Contact us to schedule an appointment to learn more about treatment for Achilles tendon injuries and get moving again.

Specializing in

  • Stress fractures
  • Achilles ruptures
  • Achilles tears
  • Ankle sprains
  • Ligament and Tendon issues
  • Overuse injuries