Achilles tendon injuries often affect adults engaged in activities that strain their ankles and feet. The incidence of Achilles tendon ruptures varies, but studies suggest an occurrence rate of approximately 5 to 10 per 100,000 in the general population, with over 80% of these injuries happening during recreational sports

The demographic most at risk includes adults in their third to fifth decades of life, particularly those involved in sports requiring sudden changes of direction or explosive movements, such as basketball, which accounts for a significant portion of sports-related Achilles tendon ruptures​​​​.

We specialize in repairing all types of joints and tendons at Davis Orthopedics, including Achilles tendon repair surgery. Recently, Dr. Davis helped David G. with an Achilles repair. 

What is Achilles Tendon Repair Surgery?

Achilles tendon repair surgery is a procedure designed to reattach the Achilles tendon to the heel bone (calcaneus) after it has been torn away. This type of injury, an avulsion, is less common than mid-tendon tears but more severe, often resulting from high-impact activities or accidents. The surgery is critical for pain relief and restoring the normal functioning of the foot, allowing patients to walk, run, and jump once again.

What to Expect from Achilles Tendon Repair?

The first thing you should always do is talk to your orthopedic surgeon about tendon repair and what the experience will be like. As our patient explains,

“I was back to being able to do the things I enjoy. One of the things I most appreciate about Dr. Davis was that he told me all along the way what to expect.” 

Here is a detailed look at what to expect from an Achilles repair surgery.

Preoperative Preparation:
Before surgery, your surgeon will conduct a thorough evaluation, including imaging tests like MRI or ultrasound, to assess the extent of the tendon injury. You’ll be advised on how to prepare for surgery, which may include fasting instructions and guidelines on stopping certain medications.

The Surgical Procedure:
Achilles tendon repair surgery is usually performed under general anesthesia or spinal anesthesia. The approach to the surgery can vary based on the injury’s specifics but generally involves:

  • Making an incision: A single long incision is made along the back of the calf to access the torn ends of the Achilles tendon.
  • Repairing the tendon: The surgeon will stitch the torn ends back together. If the tendon has detached from the heel bone, the surgeon might anchor it back to the bone using sutures that are attached to small metal screws or other fixation devices.
  • Closing the incision: Once the tendon is repaired, the incision is closed with stitches and covered with a dressing.

Why Does the Achilles Tendon Detach from the Bone?

The detachment of the Achilles tendon from the bone can occur for several reasons. High-force impacts, such as jumping or falling from a height, can cause this injury. Additionally, it can result from degenerative changes in the tendon due to aging, overuse, or underlying health conditions that weaken the tendon, making it more susceptible to injuries. Poor footwear, inadequate warm-up before exercise, and certain antibiotics that affect tendon health can also contribute to the risk of avulsion injuries.

What is the Recovery Timeline for Achilles Tendon Repair?

The recovery from Achilles tendon repair surgery is gradual, generally taking six months to a year. The timeline can vary based on the individual’s health, the injury’s severity, and the surgery’s success. Initial recovery focuses on protecting the repair, often involving immobilization in a cast or boot and avoiding weight-bearing activities. 

Physical therapy is an important step in recovery. It begins with gentle range-of-motion exercises and gradually advances to strength training and functional activities.

Frequently Asked Questions About Achilles Tendon Repair Surgery

Success rates are generally high, with most patients able to return to their previous activity level. However, outcomes can vary, and it is essential to discuss expectations thoroughly with your surgeon.

While the risk of re-injury exists, following a structured rehabilitation program and taking preventive measures can significantly reduce this risk.

As with any surgery, there are risks of complications such as infection, blood clots, or issues related to anesthesia. Specific to Achilles surgery, there is a risk of nerve damage or issues with wound healing.

Next Steps for Pain-Free Movement

Achilles tendon repair surgery is critical for individuals suffering from tendon detachment, offering a path back to mobility and activity. Understanding the reasons behind such injuries, the surgical process, and what recovery entails is essential for anyone facing this condition. 

If you experience an Achilles injury, you shouldn’t go anywhere else but to Dr. Davis. His experience and knowledge can put you at ease and ensure you fully recover from your surgery with the best support team. Book your appointment online or call (205) 533-6644 today.