Not Just a Common Injury, a Legendary One
We’ve all heard the term “Achilles heel” before. It’s used to refer to someone’s vulnerable spot—a weakness they have. Derived from a Greek myth, legend has it that in an attempt to make her son immortal, Achilles’ mother held him by one heel and dipped him into the Styx River. The place where her fingers touched him remained dry and thus it was the one and only vulnerable spot on Achilles.
Today, those that suffer from Achilles tendon injuries know first-hand how vulnerable that spot on their foot really is, and how, when strained—or worse, ruptured—it can result in debilitating pain. When conservative treatments like rest, ice, and physical therapy don’t work, Achilles tendinitis surgery may be the final option to relieve pain and restore function.
Understanding the Condition
Your Achilles tendon is the large band of fibrous tissues that connects the muscles in your calf to your heel bone. It provides the power needed to push off when we run, jump, walk—just about anything we do. Overuse is typically the cause of Achilles tendonitis, resulting in swelling and inflammation. Runners are common victims of this condition, especially if they don’t warm-up adequately, change running surfaces, increase training suddenly, or wear insufficient footwear. Symptoms include heel pain with every step, difficult mobility, and a swollen and tender Achilles tendon that might also feel warm to the touch. If the condition continues despite attempts of conservative treatments, surgery becomes necessary.
If the Achilles tendon is chronically inflamed, a surgical procedure can remove the tissue with inflammation and repair any small tears that may be present. This intervention may help prevent the tendon from actually rupturing. If it does completely tear in two, however, surgeons will wait until swelling subsides, then go in and sew the tendon back together. They can do this two ways: with an open surgery that consists of a single large incision in the back of the leg, or a percutaneous surgery where several small incisions are made rather than a single large one.
Ready Yourself for Recovery
After surgery, you can expect to wear a cast or walking boot for at least six to 12 weeks. Be prepared—total recovery can take as long as six months. Physical therapy will help the recuperating process along. During this time, a gradual return to activity is recommended. When you’re ready to get back into the swing of things, help prevent a problem from reoccurring by choosing shoes with plenty of cushioning and arch support, incorporating stretching exercises into your daily routine, and trying to cross-train as a means of minimizing impact.
If you have any questions pertaining to Achilles tendinitis surgery or would like any further information, don’t hesitate to call (512) 328-8900 for an appointment today. Dr. Craig H. Thomajan DPM, FACFAS and Dr. Shine John, DPM, FACFAS are happy to give their expert opinion on ways that you can keep your feet and ankles healthy. Visit Austin Foot and Ankle Specialists in Austin, TX, to find out more. For fun feet updates, follow us on Facebook and Twitter!
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