The Achilles tendon is the thickest and strongest tendon in the body, connecting the heal bone to the muscles of the lower leg. The Achilles tendon is important for running and walking. It is used to push off when moving forward, point the foot down, and rise up onto the toes. The Achilles tendon is injured when it is stretched too far while bending or extending the foot. The tendon may completely rupture or may be partially torn. Achilles tendon injuries are most common in recreational sports.
For most Achilles tendon injuries (both tears and ruptures), surgery provides a quicker recovery than physical therapy alone, and the surgically repaired tendon has a lower chance of being injured again. Dr. Shani makes a small incision in the lower leg to precisely stitch the torn tendon together. In rare and extreme situations and depending on the condition of the tendon, Dr. Shani may take a tendon autograft (from the patient) and attach it to the weakened Achilles tendon for added strength. Achilles tendon repair is an open procedure made thru a small 5 cm incision.
Patients work with Dr. Shani and a physical therapist for about six months on rehabilitation from Achilles tendon surgery. The goal of physical therapy is to regain full tendon strength to return to pre-injury level of play and activity. Patients walk using crutches for at least six weeks, and the ankle is supported in a full boot for at least nine weeks. Most patients return to walking without a boot after four months, and return to full sporting activity after six months of physical therapy and consultations with Dr. Shani.