Achilles Tendon Rupture RecoveryAchilles tendon rupture recovery can take several months. Below, is an outline of the recovery process and steps you can take to aid healing.

The Achilles tendon is the largest and the strongest tendon in your body.   It connects your heel bone (calcaneus) to the muscles at the back of your calf. The tendon plays a very important role in activities like running, jumping, walking up the stairs and standing on your tippy toes. If you rupture it, you won’t be able to do these activities.

An Achilles tendon rupture most often occurs just above the heel, but it may occur anywhere along the length of the tendon. You can either partially or completely tear the tendon. If not recognized, a partial tear can quickly develop into a full-blown rupture.

Symptoms include pain in the foot or heel area. This pain may travel along the back of the leg and is often intense. Bruising and swelling along the calf and ankle can also occur. Achilles tendon rupture recovery aims to relieve these symptoms and promote quick and full healing of the tendon.

If you suffer from pain in your foot or heel consult your doctor.

Achilles Tendon Rupture Recovery

Treatment and recovery depend on:

  • the nature of the tear
  • your age
  • your level of activity
  • other risk factors such as your motivation, desired activity levels, and the quality of the physical therapy program.
  • consult your doctor for details

TYPES OF TREATMENT

Surgery

If an injury results in your tendon is completely torn, you will most likely need surgery. Surgery is generally suggested if you are young, healthy and active, or are an athlete.

Non-surgical Management

For partial tears, non-surgical treatment is recommended.  Most minor Achilles tendon injuries heal on their own. Healing is aided by the following:

  • Rest your leg. Keep it raised (elevated) by propping it up on a pillow when you’re sitting or lying down.
  • Avoid putting weight on the affected leg. Using crutches will help with this. Learn to use them correctly.
  • Place an ice pack or a bag of frozen peas wrapped in a towel on the affected area. Do this for 20 to 30 minutes, every 3 to 4 hours to reduce pain and swelling. Continue for 2 or 3 days, or until the pain is gone.
  • You can use an elastic bandage (compression bandage) around your lower leg and ankle to help reduce the swelling.
  • Brace or boots are also available that can help immobilize your lower leg.
  • Take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen and naproxen to help relieve the pain and swelling. If your symptoms last for more than 7 to 10 days, call your doctor.

 

For Moderate to severe rupture, you may need a short leg cast.

  • The purpose of a cast is to prevent movement of your ankle and keep your tendon immobile while it heals. Your foot is positioned maintained in a slightly downward flexed position.
  • The cast is usually on for six to ten weeks with the position.
  • You’ll need to use crutches to keep the weight off your leg.
  • Your doctor will change the cast across the weeks to make sure your tendon is healing correctly.
  • You will be allowed to walk on the cast after a period of four to six weeks.
  • When the cast is removed, your ankle is gently massaged and mobilized, using passive exercises. These initial exercises include calf muscle stretching exercises. The aim is to reduce stiffness and regain mobility in your ankle joint.
  • After two weeks, active exercises are undertaken. A total of 12-16 weeks of active physical therapy is usually required.
  • After several weeks, more strenuous resistance exercises are introduced. This is followed by gait training exercises.

 

  • Return to routine normal activities usually occurs about four to six months after the start of the initial treatment.
  • If you have a complete rupture of the Achilles tendon, rehabilitation must be very gradual and can take 6 to 9 months.
  • Your doctor may recommend that you wear an insert in your shoe for a further two to four weeks to decrease the stress on the Achilles tendon.

An injury to your Achilles tendon can cause a minor tear or a complete rupture. Treatment depends on the type of tear, and on other risk factors. A complete rupture often needs surgery to repair it. For partial tears, treatment is non-surgical management. Achilles tendon rupture recovery is a slow process but can be aided using the strategies outlined above.

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